The Firm holds its own in Pardubice

Thu 2 May 2013

by Duncan Waugh

There is no denying that the calibre of slowpitch softball in Europe is improving with every passing year, as the format is becoming more widespread.  The FirmThis became clear in the European club championships last summer when Slovenia’s Lisičke defeated UK National Champions Chromies to claim the European Cup.

Recently, The Firm, the London Advertising Softball League’s 2010 “rookie team” that regularly plays C-grade tournaments throughout the UK, decided that a pre-season tour to Pardubice in the Czech Republic might be a good way to warm up for the coming season.  And the results were interesting, to say the least, as The Firm reached the final.

Aided by four NSL players (London Legends’ Duncan Waugh and Gelske Huyer, H2O’s Alexa van Sickle, and Chiya Louie from the Misfits/Team GB) who were there to supplement a host of B and C-grade talent, The Firm claimed second place in the six-team tournament played on 20-21 April, going 5-2 on the weekend.
 

Caution

The games took place in Pardubice, some 50 miles east of Prague, at one of the fields that will be hosting the 2013 European Slowpitch Championship in July. 

The expectations from The Firm going into the weekend were “cautiously optimistic” at best; aside from a lack of outdoor training in the cold off-season, the opposition included German club champions UCE Travellers and Czech club champions Sparks Mlade Buky, both of whom competed at last year’s European Cup.

The full line-up was Sparks Mladé Buky, UCE Travellers, The Firm, and three more Czech clubs: Rytíři Trutnov, Wayne's World and Táhla Police nad Metují.
 

Saturday

After openingThe Firm batting the day with a 7-0 victory against Rytíři Trutnov, The Firm proceeded to play against UCE Travellers in their next game. 

This was a cagey affair sprinkled with some sporadic pitching accuracy from both sides.  The game was tied at 7-7 in regulation, taking it to extra innings.  At that point The Firm came alive, putting up six runs by way of clutch hitting and some savvy at the plate.  UCE Travellers could only answer with three runs, giving the unexpected victory to The Firm by the score of 13-10. 

This was followed by a tight game against Sparks, who managed to lock down The Firm’s bats with some stellar defensive play and took the game 6-1. 
 

Sunday

The Firm, UCE Travellers and Sparks all had 2-1 records going into the final day, each having gone 1-1 against the others.  The three teams with the best records would go through to the playoffs, with the second and third placed teams playing each other to The Firm battingreach the final against the first place team.

The Firm convincingly won their two early round robin games against Táhla Police nad Metují (12-1) and Wayne’s World (7-3), as did UCE and Sparks.  In the end, Sparks would go through as the #1 seed based on runs conceded. 

This set the table for a rematch between UCE Travellers and The Firm.  By this time, The Firm’s bats were working brilliantly and the pitching of Nick Collins forced plenty of mistakes from UCE’s batters.  In the end, it was a convincing victory for The Firm by the score of 8-4, taking them immediately into the final against Sparks. 

But despite some great hitting and baserunning from The Firm, they seemed to run out of gas as their usually strong defence began to make some mental errors.  This would cost them dearly as their bats could not make up the lost ground, and Sparks Mlade Buky went on to win by a score of 10-5. 
 

Great achievement

So The Firm walked away from the tournament with a second place trophy, along with the feeling that they had punched well above their weight. 

The Firm’s Veronika Glöcknerová was largely responsible for coordinating this tour with her old softball league, and it served as another fantastic opportunity to bring the UK’s recreational softball scene to the continent.  The interaction with Czech softball was brilliant, with several of the local teams even showing vocal support for The Firm in the final!

I think it is pretty safe to say that ‘softball won’ again in Pardubice.  Keep an eye out for some additional Czech presence in future UK tournaments.
 

The roster

The players who represented The Firm in Pardubice, captained by Adam Slawson, were:The Firm group shot

Nick Collins (Firm)
Matt Ford (Firm)
David Peters (Firm)
Adam Slawson (Firm)
Ryan Turtill (Meteors)
Duncan Waugh (London Legends)

Veronika Glöcknerová (Firm)
Gelske Huyer (London Legends)
Laura Lin (Thundercats)
Chiya Louie (Firm/Misfits)
Louisa Newby (Firm)
Alexa van Sickle (H2O)

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