By Hugh Scorgie
The weather was fine but chilly on 23-24 April, the first weekend of the 2022 Great Britain Fastpitch League season, as five women’s teams and six men’s teams turn up ready to play at Farnham Park.
While the earlier than usual start date caught one or two teams a tad light on players, others turned up flush with fresh talent, especially in the Men’s Division where there is a wealth of new pitching.
Women’s Division games took place on the Saturday only, but Men’s Division games were played across the whole weekend.
The season started well in the Women’s Division with close games between the Angels and the Barbarians and then between the Angels and defending champions The Mix. Both games were well played and decided by a single heartbreaking run, with the Barbarians and The Mix prevailing.
These two teams then played each other, and the result was a 12-5 win for The Mix to settle first place in the standings at the end of Week 1.
All games in the Women’s Division were packed with activity, with solid hitting and pitching, great plays in the field and lots and lots of baserunners.
All teams have their star players and their solid reliables, but mention should be made of young Amy Morris, who in her first senior outing for the Free Agents struck out the first three batters she faced and in her game against the Barbarians held one of the better teams in the division to just five runs through three innings before tiring. The Free Agents rallied behind her, but the final score was 5-4 to the Barbarians.
The GBFL also welcomed back the Cardiff Celts, a new team in 2021, who continue to battle and to improve. There is plenty for them to play for, and if at times they struggle a bit, their development deserves to be nurtured.
Week 1 scores
Barbarians 4, London Angels 3
The Mix 10, London Angels 9
Free Agents 14, Cardiff Celts 4
Barbarians 5, Free Agents 4
London Angels 14, Cardiff Celts 1
The Mix 13, Free Agents 3
Standings after Week 1
In the Men’s Division, the Stags, bolstered by fresh pitching, including the young Dane Oscar Anderson and hard-throwing Kiwi Brendan Batten, made life tough for the other teams -- but that only tells part of the story.
The Stags are ambitious and have their eye on representing the league abroad, both at the Zeisterslot Tournament in the Netherlands in June and at the European Men’s Super Cup in Prague at the end of August. Good pitching alone may not be enough in those arenas, but the Stags are also batting a storm.
However, the other GBFL teams would not allow the Stags to have an easy run of it. All of the teams raised their game and battled back to score runs against them.
The Hawks and Eagles, consisting mainly of players from GB age group national teams, continue to develop and look exciting, and the Eagles wound up the weekend in second place behind the Stags in the standings.
Meanwhile, the Meteors have added a new and convincing North American pitcher, Teagan Waite, to their line-up and appear tight and disciplined -- and they have always been a good hitting team.
The Heat were missing their Honduran pitcher, down with Covid this weekend, but nevertheless impressed.
The Strays, suffering from a lack of players on this first outing, promise to be a different kettle of fish next time out.
A roundup of the Men’s Division wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the four players from the Women’s Division who ‘guested’ on men’s teams over the weekend. All turned in excellent performances and one of the highlights of the weekend was ex-South African National Team player Lisa Erasmus’s searing drive to right field off the Stags’ Brendan Batten (pictured below), which drove in two runs to boot.
Week 1 scores
Eagles 5, Heat 4
Stags 13, Meteors 2
Strays 14, Hawks 1
Stags 10, Hawks 5
Strays 11, Heat 7
Eagles 9, Meteors 7
Stags 7, Strays 1
Meteors 7, Heat 5
Stags 1, Eagles 0
Meteors 9, Hawks 0
Hawks 10, Heat 8
Eagles 7, Strays 5
Meteors 5, Strays 1
Stags 10, Heat 2
Stags 7, Hawks 1
Eagles 11, Meteors 6
Heat 7, Strays 5
Standings after Week 1