Thursday, 23 June 2016
The Cotswold Softball Tournament
This past Sunday, I was in the pretty Cotswold town of Stroud, for their early season softball tournament. It is the first softball tournament I've been to in a few years, and only the second with my Oxford Knights team. Seven teams came out for the tourney and each of them played four games.
The Knights came as a bit of a hodge-podge team. We had a couple of old veterans, including myself, a couple of true rookies who had barely swung a bat in anger before, and a few players drawn from other Oxford teams to make up the numbers.
Our first game was against the so-called 'Sons of Pitches'. I took the 'mound' in the game, and was rudely greeted by their big bats. Eventually, we lost the game 17-2. I went a disappointing 0-2 at the plate, while catching one pop-fly. Although it was a somewhat dispiriting loss, we learned a lot from the game and modified the line-up and the positioning for our next game.
We had an hour break before our next game and had a nice picnic lunch in the quiet Cotswold town. The view of the high, rolling hills certainly made it the most attractive place I have ever played softball. Soon, the hour was up, and we went back out to the field. (All games in the tourney were about an hour long and thus tended to only go 5 or 6 innings).
Our second game was against the 'Dragon Warriors', and was a much closer contest. I was pitching again, and had much better command in this game (walking no one as opposed to the two in the first game). I also had a much better game at the plate. going 2-3 with a couple of singles, and even got in some glove work, adding three assists. In the end, we lost 9-8, but it was a fun, competitive game.
By the third game, we were definitely trending in the right direction. This time we took on the hometown Cotswold Chaos. I thankfully got a break from pitching for a game and moved over to third base. Our bats really came alive in this one, and we won 16-4. I added two more hits, again going 2-3, managed three put-outs, and one assist. The only down point was that my assist came after I essentially caught a hard grounder with my stomach after a funny hop. Still, a big bruise is one of the ways you know you've played softball!
During game 3, a light misty rain had begun to fall, and by game 4 this was turning into a light, but steady rain (that's how you know you've played softball in England!). This game saw us take on the 'Red Sox'. Although we didn't know it at the time, it was actually a game for 3rd place in the tourney.
I was back in the centre of the diamond for this one, and probably had one of my best games ever. I caught three pop-ups, and got for assists as well. (Being involved in 7 outs is a rarity for a pitcher!). I also went 2-2 at the plate, as part of our 8-4 win.
It wasn't until the game was over, and the rain had thankfully stopped, that we discovered we had taken third overall, and would be coming home with a small trophy, another bit of hardware for the non-existent Knight's trophy case!
A terrific way to spend the last official day of Spring!
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