This weekend of 21-22 August saw the close of the 2021 North West Series competition in Manchester. With 152 games played over the Series by 24 teams, the NWS was a roaring success, giving softballers a chance to catch up with friends on the diamond for the first time in more than a year.
North West Series 1 in April was the first official tournament of 2021 in the North and players were chomping at the bit to get playing. Seventeen teams played over the weekend: seven Rec teams on Saturday and 10 Comp teams on Sunday. The Rec competition was won by Freeze and Thunder took home the medals for Comp.
North West Series 2 in June, again with 17 teams, was another show of fantastic game play, this time with Tigers as Rec champions and Thunder didn’t let a game slip, taking home yet another set of NWS Comp medals.
The final countdown
North West Series 3 had increased demand in the Rec competition, with entries capped at 10 teams, including six visiting teams: two from Merseyside, three from Yorkshire and a University of Nottingham alumni side. The weather forecast was, to put it simply, wet. With non-stop rain from first pitch, teams were soaked to the bone, but that didn’t dampen their spirit. The 10 teams were split into two groups of five and played a four-game round robin before moving to a playoff format to determine the tournament champions.
The Tigers went unbeaten all day, continuing their winning form throughout the North West Series into the final, where they eventually beat Yorkshire Dales 4-3 with a spectacular walk-off home run from James Wright. Finishing in the top spot at both NWS 2 and NWS 3 secured the Tigers' place as overall Series winners, claiming the 2021 trophy.
In complete contrast to Saturday, Sunday’s Comp tournament was filled with sun and blue skies. Again with 10 teams, the day followed the same format as the Rec competition the day before. Travelling Dodgers came top of Group A with three wins while Sharks won Group B with four straight wins including a victory against the reigning NWS 1 & 2 champions Thunder. However, Thunder upped their game, winning their semi-final against Travelling Dodgers, then conquering Spittin’ Camels 10-7 in the Comp final.
With three consecutive Series wins, there was no doubt that Thunder would be crowned 2021 North West Series Comp champions after their outstanding performance across each instalment of the series.
Luis Arrevillagas, Tournament Organiser and BSUK North West Development Manager, said, “We’re so happy to have completed the 2021 North West Series without any hiccups. I’d like to say a huge thank you to each of the 24 captains who put their teams together for the three weekends of play. Battling to get a full team together with players self-isolating at short notice has been a difficult job, so without your hard work our tournaments couldn’t have run so smoothly. Also, a huge thank you to our umpires, calling plays in all sorts of Manchester weather.”
Linni Mitchell, North West Coach added, “We’re so pleased to have been able to bring some sort of normality this year, and teams seemed more grateful than ever to be able to play. Lots of hard work behind the scenes meant the tournaments were a success and enjoyed by all while following all Return to Play protocols. I'm looking forward to next year's Series, which will be our fifth year!”
The North West Series will return in 2021!