On a surprisingly cold morning in South Wales on Saturday 22 April, softballers from all along the M4 gathered once again at Cardiff Harlequins Rugby Club for the annual Cardiff Firstball Tournament.
Round-Robin: Group A
The tournament began with two round-robin groups of four, with Group A produced the first local derby of the day between the 2022 League Champions Valley Wet Socks and last year's league debutants, the Base Invaders. Now entering their second season with some additional new faces, the Base Invaders were fully aware of the challenge ahead and their spirit showed how much improvement they had made as a squad over the off-season.
But it was ultimately the Wet Socks who came away with an early win.
Meanwhile Cardiff Red Sox were on the receiving end against an in-form Bristol Bam! side, with the guests racking up a 17-10 victory. The Red Sox went on to win against the Base Invaders but another loss to the Wet Socks saw them slip into the plate section, while Bam! and an unbeaten Wet Socks team took the top two spots in the group. Results were:
Valley Wet Socks 23, Base Invaders 4
Bristol Bam! 17, Red Sox 10
Valley Wet Socks 19, Bristol Bam! 6
Red Sox 16, Base Invaders 7
Valley Wet Socks 12, Red Sox 6
Bristol Bam! 10, Base Invaders 5
Round-Robin: Group B
Group B started as a much closer affair, with 2022 league runners-up the Hurricanes only beating Cardiff Chaos by three, while the Crazy Dragons, entered as a mashup of last year's two other new teams, Red Dragons and Bats Hit Crazy, only lost to Swindon Bombers by the smallest possible margin.
While a draw between Chaos and the Bombers and a storm of runs that took the Hurricanes past the Dragons helped define the top and bottom teams, the Bombers proved too much in the end and, with two wins and a draw, topped the group. Results were:
Hurricanes 9, Chaos 6
Swindon Bombers 10, Crazy Dragons 9
Hurricanes 23, Crazy Dragons 3
Chaos 10, Swindon Bombers 10
Swindon Bombers 17, Hurricanes 9
Crazy Dragons 9, Chaos 7
The first Plate semi-final between the Red Sox and Chaos produced a nailbiter, with the teams tied 11-11 after 55 minutes. With tournament rules stating the score would revert back, it was Chaos who had been ahead after the third inning, who secured the first place in the final.
The second semi-final between the Base Invaders and the Crazy Dragons was not such a close affair, with the Dragons reduced to nine players and the Base Invaders finding form, cruising into the Plate final with a 17-6 win.
Unfortunately, strong fielding from the more experienced Chaos proved to be too much for the Base Invaders, and despite a grand slam home run from Base Invaders pitcher Mike Thomas, It was Chaos who went home with the Plate trophy.
Semi-final 1: Chaos 10, Red Sox 7 (reverted)
Semi-final 2: Base Invaders 17, Crazy Dragons 6
Final: Chaos 11, Base Invaders 4
MVPs: Geraint Real and Gemma Christian
The first Cup Sem- final was a decider between the two league leaders, Valley Wet Socks and Hurricanes. Hurricanes put up a valiant effort, with a home run from James Gore that almost went into the clubhouse toilets, but the in-form league champion Wet Socks took the win.
The second Cup semi-final was a showdown between the two guest teams from Bristol and Swindon, but the Bristol Bam! bats were too much and they shot the Bombers down to earn a place in the Cup final.
The Cup final was a repeat of the Group A fixture between the Valley Wet Socks and a resurgent Bristol Bam!, who were apparently out for revenge from the earlier defeat. A close game ensued but Bam!’s bats were a bit hotter and they took home the trophy.
Semi-final 1: Valley Wet Socks 13, Hurricanes 4
Semi-final 2: Bristol Bam! 20, Bombers 8
Final: Bristol Bam! 14, Valley Wet Socks 8
MVPs: Marie Péneau and Tom Jukes-Longford
Cardiff Softball would also like to congratulate Chris Hoare, Lauren Williams, Laszlo Maros and Dave McCarthy for passing their BASU assessments at the tournament, and thank BASU Trainer Chris Lunn for his help in getting them through the online course.