by Peter Evans
BSUK West Midlands Regional Development Manager
It's been a long time since there was a competitive slowpitch softball event in the West Midlands. But the progress the game has made there over the past couple of years was shown on Sunday, May 15 when the Birmingham Bobcats, Coventry Tigers and Leamington Hawks met in the first round of games that will eventually determine the 2011 West Midlands champion.
The day started with everyone quite nervous about the small rain shower taking place as the squads arrived. But all worry was abandoned 15 minutes before the first game when the rain stopped and the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds.
The first game on the fixtures list was Birmingham v Coventry.
Birmingham v Coventry
The first game of the 2011 West Midlands Championship was the marquee game of the day.
Both teams displayed outstanding defence from the outset -- so much so that the first runs didn't come until the top of the third inning, when Bobcats' third baseman Jeff Nash smacked a 260-foot home run to left-centre field.
The Bobcats then scored three runs in the fourth inning on a triple by pitcher Alex Levine, and in the fifth, left fielder Debbie Evetts scored on Justin Evans' triple to run the Birmingham lead to 5-1.
The Tigers would not be deterred, however, and some pitching struggles in the bottom of the fifth inning by Alex Levine helped the Tigers to pull the score back to 5-4. But Birmingham found another run and Coventry’s last chance ended when Chad Farmer caught a sky-high fly ball to end what was a wonderfully-played game on both sides.
Final Score: Birmingham 6, Coventry 4
Coventry v Leamington
The second game of the day pitted the Tigers against the Leamington Hawks. It was the Hawks' first competitive game, and it showed.
The Tigers, looking to take out some of their frustrations from the earlier game, ran up a 10-run lead in the first inning. The rookie Hawks did score two in the bottom of the second inning, but by that point the game was out of reach as the Tigers had gone up by over 20 runs and the game eventually ended on the mercy rule.
Final Score: Coventry 22, Leamington 2
Leamington v Birmingham
The final game saw Birmingham take on the Hawks.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they couldn't improve their offensive or defensive performance from their first match, and allowed the Bobcats to open up a 25-run lead after the top of the fourth inning.
The Hawks scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth, however, to the cheers of both the spectating Tigers and also the Bobcats, in a tremendous show of sportsmanship by the other teams.
Final Score: Birmingham 25, Leamington 2
The seeds have now been firmly planted for the future of co-ed slowpitch softball in the region.
West Midlands competition will resume on July 25 at the Woodlands School in Coventry, where hopefully a team from Stratford will be able to join in the fun.