2021 National Championships
Planned dates for 2021 National Championships – assuming something close to a normal season can go ahead this year -- are below.
BSF SINGLE-SEX SLOWPITCH NATIONALS
The BSF Single-Sex Slowpitch Nationals, which were scheduled to be played in Birmingham on the weekend of 26-27 June, have been cancelled for 2021 due to lack of interest from a sufficient number of teams, which makes the tournament financially unviable. Hopefully, this competition will be back in 2022.
BSF CO-ED SLOWPITCH LEAGUE NATIONALS
Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze
7-8 August at Farnham Park
Because there was no softball league play in 2020, teams that will be invited to the 2021 Co-ed Slowpitch League Nationals are those that qualified through their results in 2019 and attended the 2020 AGM.
BSF NSL1 AND NSL2 NATIONALS
4-5 September at Farnham Park
These National Championships are for the top eight teams that qualify from league play in National Softball League 1 and National Softball League 2 during the 2021 season. The date, venue and format for an NSL3 National Championship in 2021, if possible, will be announced when Covid-19 regulations for the summer are known.
BSF Nationals Rules and Regulations
Dispensations for National Championships. There is a general feeling that requests for dispensations for Co-ed Slowpitch National Championships have got out of hand in recent years, and in 2019 the BSF Executive made some decisions designed to tighten up the system:
- There will be a deadline for requesting dispensations, two weeks before each tournament, and the only requests that will be considered after that are medical or other emergencies that have arisen between the deadline and the tournament.
- No team will be granted dispensations for more than three players.
- If a team can field six men and six women from its own roster, no dispensations will be granted.
- Replacement players must be from the same level of play or lower.
The BSF’s intention is to apply these rules firmly but fairly to reduce abuses of the system.
Uniform Rules. The BSF has restated its uniform requirements for teams at National Championships:
- All players must wear matching tops.
- Players can wear trousers or shorts, but all must be the same base colour.
NSL and the Nationals
Here is a summary of what teams need to know about how the National Softball League and Softball National Championships will function in 2021 and beyond.
The BSF believes that the current NSL structure -- 12 teams in NSL1 and NSL2 with eight qualifying for National Championships through league play, plus an NSL 3 National Championship Tournament to feed two new teams each year into NSL2 -- is working well and is popular with players
In 2021, for the first time, the BSF plans to move to two-up, two-down between NSL2 and NSL1, a move that would have taken place in 2020 were it not for the pandemic cancelling the season.
In future, if demand from teams to be part of the NSL structure continues to grow, NSL3 could move to regional or national league play providing qualification for Nationals at the end of the season.
At the moment, the league schedule for NSL1 and NSL2 is played entirely within the three Diamond Series tournaments, but recent comments at the League Heads Forum have reflected some desire to see NSL competition at more tournaments and locations around the country. Northern and Scottish teams and players, in particular, would welcome not having to travel to the South East every time to compete in the NSL.
In future, perhaps NSL tournaments can be awarded to leagues through a bidding system, as was the case with National Championships in the past.
Improving the Nationals
The BSF’s aim is to make the Co-ed Slowpitch League and NSL National Championships the pinnacle tournaments each season for the teams that qualify and compete in them. From BSF Executive and League Heads Forum meetings over the past few years, the following ideas for improving and enhancing the Nationals have been put forward:
- Ensure that scoreboards at Farnham Park are used on all fields.
- Use a PA system and provide commentary for finals.
- Schedule longer games during group stages.
- Use line-up cards for playoff games.
- Provide live and on-demand web-streaming of final games.
- Use field umpires for all games.
- Provide more seating for spectators.
- Hold a party or social event at the Home Plate clubhouse on Saturday night, perhaps with live music.
- Provide more activities around the tournament such as a kids’ play area, clinics, an exhibition match etc.
- Stage a Home Run Derby and other individual contests.
- Create and sell tournament T-shirts, and invite equipment suppliers to set up stalls on site.
Some of these recommendations have already been carried out, and the BSF will consider which of the other ideas might be practically and financially feasible and will try to implement as many of them as possible over time.
League All-Star Nationals
Some years ago, the BSF came up with the idea for a League All-Star Nationals, where leagues from around the country sent All-Star Teams to a two-day competition. This tournament flourished for a few years, after which interest waned.
However, following comments at a recent League Heads Forum, the BSF will look at whether this tournament should be revived, perhaps with criteria that will support leagues in creating strong teams that represent the best of their talent.
Meanwhile, something like a League All-Star Nationals has been revived in the South West, where an informal All-Star Tournament was held at the end of the 2017 season with five leagues sending teams. A similar tournament is planned for the North and Midlands in 2021.
The BSF will explore whether it might be worth bringing this tournament back on a national level.
Previous National Champions
Below are previous National Championship winners, and the list shows what a rare feat the Windsor Knights pulled off in 2019. No one but Pioneers and Chromies had won the A-grade National Championship since 2008, and since 2002, when Pioneers won their first title, the two teams had won 14 out of 18 championships.
2020 -- No Nationals were played due to the Covid pandemic.
2019 – Windsor Knights
2018 – Pioneers
2017 -- Chromies
2016 -- Pioneers
2015 -- Chromies
2014 – Chromies
2013 – Chromies
2012 – Chromies
2011 – Pioneers
2010 – Pioneers
2009 – Chromies
2008 – Dragons
2007 – Chromies
2006 – Chromies
2005 – Slammers
2004 – Chromies
2003 – Stingrays
2002 – Pioneers
2001 – Baker Tomkins
2000 – Baker Tomkins
1999 – Baker Tomkins
1998 – Baker Tomkins
1997 – Chromies (then known as Superchrome)
1996 – Windsor Dodgers
1995 – Genies
1994 – Slammers
1993 – Isherwood
1992 – Slammers
1991 – Meteors
1990 – Sliders
1989 – Pirates
1988 – London New Zealand
1987 – Pirates
NSL 2 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS
2019 – Tempest
2018 – Manchester Mavericks
2017 – SPAM
NSL 3 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS
2019 – Spittin’ Camels
2018 – Misfits