The second British University & College Sport Softball National Championship took place at Farnham Park National Baseball and Softball Complex over the weekend of 18-19 March, with 11 teams fighting for championship gold. Despite some very wet weather on Saturday, games started with just a slight delay, and a full slate of games were played on Day One, setting up a fantastic finish for the final on Sunday.
Teams were divided into two groups for pool play across Saturday and Sunday morning. The scores from pool play were:
Day 1 - Pool Play
|University of East Anglia 7, University of Kent 6||University of York 11, Oxford Brookes University 9|
|University of Nottingham 13, Swansea University 8||Loughborough University 18, University of East Anglia 2|
|University of Manchester 6, University of Reading 6||Swansea University 10, University of Southampton 9|
|University of York 13, University of Kent 1||University of Nottingham 17, University of Reading 6|
|University of East Anglia 9, Oxford Brookes University 5||University of Central Lancashire 7, University of Manchester 2|
|University of Manchester 10, Swansea University 9||Loughborough University 14, University of Kent 6|
|University of Nottingham 23, University of Southampton 5||University of East Anglia 10, University of York 2|
|University of Central Lancashire 9, University of Reading 3||University of Reading 12, Swansea University 4|
|University of Nottingham 7, University of Central Lancashire 7|
Day 2 - Pool Play
|Loughborough University 12, University of York 9||University of Manchester 8, University of Southampton 7|
|Oxford Brookes University 12, University of Kent 10||University of Manchester 12, University of Nottingham 8|
|University of Central Lancashire 6, Swansea University 3||University of Reading 7, University of Southampton 4|
Note: Imperial College withdrew from the tournament with late notice; as per BUCS Softball rules, each of their scheduled fixtures was considered a 7-0 forfeit.
After pool play ended, BSUK staff at Tournament Control ran the necessary calculations, and the playoffs were set. Semifinal 1 featured the defending champions Loughborough University against the University of Manchester Maelstrom, while the second semifinal saw newcomer University of Central Lancashire take on the University of East Anglia Blue Sox.
Placement Games (Places 5-11)
Every team had fixtures after pool play concluded, with vital BUCS points up for grabs based on tournament placement.
|University of Southampton 8, University of Kent 8||University of Reading 8, University of York 3|
|University of Nottingham 11, Oxford Brookes University 6||University of Kent 15, Swansea University 6|
|Swansea University 12, University of Southampton 11||University of Nottingham 13, University of Reading 9|
The University of Manchester played a tough game against Loughborough University, but the defending champions were just too much, and the battle of purple saw Loughborough advance to the final to defend their crown. In the following semifinal, the University of Central Lancashire shocked the University of East Anglia, one of last year’s semifinalists, scoring 14 runs en route to a 14-3 victory and setting up a rematch of 2020’s Christmas University Challenge for softball gold.
|Semifinal 1||Loughborough University 15, University of Manchester 7|
|Semifinal 2||University of Central Lancashire 14, University of East Anglia 3|
Third Place Game
In the third place game, Manchester jumped out to an early lead on the way to a 20-5 victory over the University of East Anglia to claim the bronze medal.
|Third Place Game||University of Manchester 20, University of East Anglia 5|
The defending champions, Loughborough University, entered the final as heavy favourites, but the University of Central Lancashire was not so easily overcome. By the third inning, Loughborough had jumped out to a 12-4 lead, holding and extending the advantage to 13-5 by the sixth inning. However, in the top of the seventh, the final frame, the University of Central Lancashire fought back, scoring five runs before the first out of the inning. With the tying run at first and one out, the University of Central Lancashire was on the cusp of a major upset, but Loughborough was able to shut the door after allowing one final run to repeat as National Champions by a score of 13-12.
|National Championship Final||Loughborough University 13, University of Central Lancashire 12|
|2nd||University of Central Lancashire||35|
|3rd||University of Manchester||24|
|4th||University of East Anglia||16|
|5th||University of Nottingham||14|
|6th||University of Reading||12|
|7th||University of York||10|
|8th||Oxford Brookes University||8|
|9th||University of Kent||6|
|11th||University of Southampton||6|
|12th||Imperial College London||0|
The atmosphere at Farnham Park was fantastic all weekend, despite the wet and cold weather, and the final saw more than 100 spectators stick around to enjoy the action. Across the weekend, BaseballSoftballUK's staff and British Association of Softball Umpires were impressed with the university teams, both on and off the field, with BASU Umpire-in-Chief Jes Sandhu remarking that “a lot of senior teams could learn from the university kids!”
Reflecting on the weekend, BSUK’s Head of Development Chris Rawlings remarked, “This weekend is the culmination of months of regional competition, with the best 12 teams in the country coming to Farnham Park to compete to be named the country’s best team. The BUCS National Softball Championship is a real team effort involving the university IA’s, club captains, BASU and staff from BaseballSoftballUK. This weekend was a real chance to celebrate university softball – and the competition certainly did not disappoint. Congratulations to Loughborough for retaining their title, and to all the teams that competed in the competition. The future of university softball is certainly looking bright."
Farnham Park will host the finale of the BUCS Baseball National Championship season on 25-26 March, and a National University Baseball Champion will be crowned on Sunday. Games are scheduled to start at 9:30 AM on Saturday, 26 March, with the Championship game to take place Sunday afternoon. All game times and fields are weather-dependent. The BUCS National Baseball Championship is free to attend, so come down to Farnham Park and watch some great uni action and enjoy British baseball!