The 2022 Softball World Series Tournament was played at Farnham Park on the weekend of 10-11 September, and there was a familiar winner, with the Yanks, representing Americans in the UK, defeating GB Futures in the Trophy final.
The names of three teams in the 2022 World Series had to be changed in order not to violate World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) rules against calling teams by the names of WBSC member countries when they are not an official national team. Accordingly, USA became the Yanks, Canada became the Canucks and Japan became the Godzillas.
Fourteen teams from the UK and Europe took part in this year's World Series, and victory by the Yanks gave the Americans six wins overall in the 22 World Series tournaments played to date, two more than any other team has achieved. Four of those wins have come in the last seven years under the leadership of Duncan Waugh.
The Plate competition was won by Africa, their first World Series trophy since they won the top prize at the World Series four times between 2000 and 2004. The Africans defeated Guernsey, who returned to the World Series after an absence of several years, in a tremendous Plate final by a score of 22-21.
The Cup competition was an all-Ireland affair, with an Irish National Team squad defeating World Series veterans The Craicers by 15-11 in the final.
The tournament began on time on Saturday morning, despite heavy rain the night before soaking the fields.
The first round was played by two round-robin groups of seven teams each, Groups A and B, with the teams battling it out over the course of Saturday to determine which competition they would play in on Sunday.
After Saturday, the top three teams from each group would go to the Trophy competition, the teams finishing fourth and fifth in each group would go to the Plate competition, and the teams finishing sixth and seventh in each group would go to the Cup competition.
Competition for places was fierce, with 10 games on Saturday decided by margins of just one or two runs. But at the end of a long day, with all teams playing six games, the standings looked like this:
These standings meant that the Trophy Competition on Sunday would be contested by England, GB Futures, the defending champion GB Masters, the Canucks, the Yanks and the UCE Travellers from Germany – teams that between them had won 11 of the 22 World Series tournaments played before this year.
The six teams would play a full round-robin on Sunday morning to decide which four of them would make it to the Page Playoff – but with results against teams in their Saturday groups carried forward. So some teams went into Sunday in better shape than others: the undefeated GB Futures took a 2-0 record forward to Sunday, the UCE Travellers took an 0-2 record into Sunday and the other four teams took a 1-1 record forward.
Things were less complicated in the Plate Competition, to be contested on Sunday by Belgium, Guernsey, Africa and the Godzillas, and the Cup Competition, to be played by the Craicers, Ireland, the Anzacs and Latin America.
In each case, the four teams would play a full round-robin on Sunday followed by a third-place game and a final.
The Trophy round-robin on Sunday threw up a number of close games and some placings between tied teams had to be decided by head-to-head results.
In the end, GB Futures, helped by the 2-0 record they carried forward from Saturday, finished in first place in the group, despite their first loss of the tournament at the hands of England in a game on Sunday morning put back 30 minutes because of fog. It must be autumn!
UCE Travellers had carried an 0-2 record into Sunday but fought back with three good wins that took them into second place and a meeting in the 1 v 2 Page Playoff with GB Futures.
England and the Yanks just squeezed past last year’s winners, the GB Masters, into third and fourth place, with the Masters’ fate decided whey they lost 12-11 to GB Futures in the teams’ last round-robin game.
That left GB Masters to play the Canucks, who had made it into the Trophy playoffs for the second straight year, in the fifth-place game, and the Masters won by a score of 24-14.
In the Page Playoff, GB Futures kept their title hopes very much alive with a 10-9 win over the UCE Travellers, twice champions since 2015, that sent the Futures team to the Trophy final.
Meanwhile, the Yanks were squeezing past England by 17-16 in the Page Playoff 3 v 4 game, setting up a clash with UCE Travellers to see who would join the Futures in the final. This was a much easier game for the Yanks, who cruised through by 21-1.
A report on the Trophy final will follow shortly.
In the Plate playoffs, Africa topped the four-team round-robin, just ahead of Guernsey, by virtue of a 10-9 win for Africa when the two teams met.
Godzillas were third in the round-robin standings, and Belgium fourth.
The Belgians had had a really good day on Saturday, just missing out on the Trophy playoffs, but weren’t able to win a game on Sunday morning.
That record continued when they lost to Godzillas in the Plate third-place game.
In the Plate final, in a thrilling contest, Africa beat Guernsey 22-21.
In the Cup playoffs, Ireland topped the four-team round-robin with three straight wins, with the Craicers second. The Anzacs – who won the World Series on four occasions between 2007 and 2013 but have fallen on hard times -- finished third and the winless Latin American team fourth.
Anzacs won the third-place game with a 22-1 win over Latin America, and in a closely-contested Cup final, the Ireland squad outlasted the Craicers by 15-11.
By Steve McGregor
The Yanks and GB Futures squared off in the Trophy final with GB Futures hoping to win the Softball World Series for the first time. But it was the Yanks who came out on top by 28-8.
A seven-inning showcase was scheduled, but the Yanks forced an early conclusion with an impressive batting display.
“We had to absolutely dig deep because this was our fourth game in a row,” said Yanks captain Duncan Waugh. The Yanks had brought this fate on themselves by coming through the Page Playoff the hard way. Ranked fourth after losing to the UCE Travellers in the last game of the Trophy round-robin on Sunday, the Yanks had to win the Page Playoff 3v 4 game against England and then the semi-final, and then immediately play their fourth straight game – the final.
But the Yanks showed no signs of exhaustion and didn’t wait long to show their intent, with a 10-run first inning outburst that put immediate pressure on the GB Futures’ offense. Eight well-placed singles from the first 10 batters started the ball rolling before Duncan Waugh hit his first home run of the day with a deep fly ball to left field, bringing in three runs and capping off a big inning.
GB Futures replied with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning, suggesting that the game was far from over, with RBIs from Josie Cherson, Jake Elmy, Tom Russell, and Crista Reed-Thomas. But the Yanks continued their assault.
Tyler McGoveran and Brian Barrett hit home runs in the top of the second inning before USA first baseplayer Christina Witthuhn had a collision on the base path on her way to third base. But this didn’t stop her making an athletic slide through GB Futures catcher Becky Green's legs moments later. GB thought they had the out, but the umpire declared Kim safe on a close play at home plate.
The bottom of the third inning started well for GB Futures, who hoped to swing the momentum in their favour. A lead-off walk for Tom Russell was followed by a single from Christa Reed-Thomas and then fielding errors cost the Yanks a couple of runs, perhaps a sign of some tired legs on the field. But reflexes were still sharp, as third base player Chiya Louie snagged a well-hit line drive down the third base line from Becky Green with runners on second and third base, momentarily saving two runs. However, Josh Stanley drilled a line drive into left field on the next play, bringing both runners home to cut the lead still further before a 1-4-3 double play ended the inning.
After this, however, the Yanks took full control of the game, with deep shots coming from Duncan Waugh and Tyler McGoveran, both hitting their second home runs of the game. This was backed up in the following innings with some solid defense to shut down any attempt at a GB Futures comeback.
After five innings, the game was called on the mercy rule and the Yanks were crowned Softball World Series champions for the sixth time, with the final score standing at 28-8.
2022 Final standings
Final standings at the 2022 Softball World Series were:
1 – Yanks
2 – GB Futures
3 – UCE Travellers
4 – England
5 – GB Masters
6 – Canucks
7 – Africa
8 – Guernsey
9 – Godzillas
10 – Belgium
11 – Ireland
12 – Craicers
13 – Anzacs
14 -- Latinos
World Series history
The list of World Series winners since the tournament began is:
2022 -- Yanks
2021 – GB Masters
2020 – No tournament played due to Covid-19
2019 – UCE Travellers (Germany)
2018 – Yanks
2017 – Yanks
2016 – Yanks
2015 – UCE Travellers (Germany)
2014 – England
2013 – Anzacs
2012 – Anzacs
2011 – Lakenheath Eagles
2010 – Lakenheath Eagles
2009 – England
2008 – Anzacs
2007 – Anzacs
2006 – Rest of the World
2005 – Yanks
2004 – Africa
2003 – Africa
2002 – Yanks
2001 – Africa
2000 – Africa
1999 -- England