By Gemma McArdle

A weekend that involved the normal venue but a very different format, with 26 teams playing the game we all love in unusual amounts of sunshine – that was the 2021 Leeds Tournament at Grange Park in Wetherby on 12-13 June.

This tournament is usually known as the ‘Wet One’, but Mother Nature definitely had other ideas this year, with temperatures reaching a high of 25 degrees.  After the weekend there were many burnt bodies with some very undesirable tan lines!

After lengthy discussions between the Grange Park Sports Club owners and the Leeds Softball Association (LSA), agreement was reached on hosting a Covid-safe tournament.  After initial investigations to see if teams were interested in playing, volunteers from the LSA organised the event in just three weeks!

New format

Rather than the usual two-day tournament for 24 teams, this year the event consisted of two packed one-day tournaments.  Teams were guaranteed five games each and teams that made it to the final were awarded with a sixth game in the Comp competition.

On Saturday, a total of 14 recreational teams from Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Nottingham and York competed, and on Sunday, 12 competitive teams from Leeds, Manchester, York and Nottingham turned up to play.

Many of the Comp teams included additional players from Liverpool, Leicester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Milton Keynes, just to name a few.   

Rec Tournament

This competition featured recreational teams with different levels of players from C-grade down to rookies.  

After the initial round robin, teams were ranked 1 to 14. Teams that finished first through eighth went straight through to one of four finals, while teams ranked nine to 14 played in a final placing game.   

Results and MVPs for the Recreational Tournament were:

Platinum Final:  Famille Casling 21, Pyros 20.  MVPs were Sam Kendrick (Famille Casling) and Maite Hernandez (Pyros).

Gold Final:  Sefton Sharks 11, Manchester Outlaws 7.   MVPs were Kate and Stephen Shearer (Sefton Sharks).

Silver Final:  Nottingham Arrows 16, Yorkshire Dales 1.  MVPs were Phil Yorke-Robinson and Rebekah Kay (Nottingham Arrows).

Bronze Final:  Manchester Tigers 18, Leeds Bobcats 16.  MVPs were Ryan Osborne (Leeds Bobcats) and Alyssa Jones (Tigers).

Comp Tournament

The Comp competition started early at 8.30 on Sunday morning and was hard-fought, with a very high standard of play and many of the round-robin games decided by only one or two runs.

Group A had two ties for the four final places that were decided on head-to-head results.

Group B was won by Thunder, who won all their round-robin games, but with the other finalists it came down to a three-way tie decided by runs conceded.

Results and MVPs for the Competitive Tournament were:

Platinum Final:  Thunder 20, Meerkats 11.  MVPs were Robbie Studholme and Sian Payne (Thunder).

Gold Final:  Mavericks 12, Mossley Mayhem 11.  MVPs were Pete Nightingale (Mavericks) and Emma Agostini (Mossley Mayhem).

Silver Final:  Pyros 15, Hairy Misfits 13.  MVPs were Matthew Tomlin (Pyros) and Kat Peters (Hairy Misfits).

Bronze Final:  Nottingham Sheriffs 18, Spittin’ Camels 8.  MVPs were Michael Honeywell and Jade Binder (Nottingham Sheriffs).