When: Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Where: Regents Park, Pitch 14 

The Competition: Dunnhumby "Slammers"

Final Score: Dunnhumby 18 - 5 Pearlfinders 

Kia's Match Report: 

After a long winter break from softball spent soul-searching after last seasons’ playoff shellacking we took a strategic view of cutting some of the dead wood from the 2016 season (see ya Tibbitts) and started to construct one of the most lethal softball squads seen since the year Google managed to field an entire team of Canadian left-handers… Following much fanfair and pre-season predictions twelve brave souls finally stepped onto the diamond with victory in their eyes and insight in their hearts to kick off what is expected to be the most exciting London Advertising Softball League Division Two to date. First up came perennial title-hoggers dunnhumby, specifically taking on their third team as they seem to have as many teams as we have girls to pick from at our whole company. Having just dropped down from the unchartered seas of Division One we knew they would be a touch proposition, particularly as we boasted a team featuring five debutants in Phil, Charlotte, Emily, Gilbert and Hesketh, alongside a few seasoned old pros, with a long-overdue return from Adam ‘Wrongway’ Killip generating the most buzz. 

The first takeaway from the match was the weather – it was cold. Very cold. We’re not just talking English summer cold but so cold you could see your own breath as you ran around chasing overthrows in the warm-up. So thank you for everyone who braved the elements, you can rest assured this was as cold as I’ve ever experienced down at Regent’s Park and it will certainly only improve from here. The match started slowly, as expected when so many are learning the rules and some more experienced heads let the pressure get to them, with the dh team moving out to an early 7-0 lead. From here there was a worry our enthusiasm would plummet as low as the temperature, but heartening we started to pick up the basics and managed to notch a five-run innings of our own to put the cat amongst the pigeons, while also limiting them to a maiden turn at bat. Unfortunately their superior hitting, fielding and, crucially, knowledge of the rules saw the game stretch away from us and end up with a respectable 18-5 loss for the PFers. Obviously not ideal to kick off the season with an L but this was always going to be a sharp learning curve and I’m already optimistic we will return with more layers and more players for next weeks’ match and notch that first three points. 

Man of the Match: This week I am going to have to break with protocol and go for a group award here. In a week when the match flew by and they really stifled us in the field it is hard to pick out a top batter of the week, so instead the debutants all take the plaudits. It would be easy to bang on about commitment for coming down when it was freezing and many had to slog at work to ensure getting away on time but this is an award earned on merit. Softball is a cruel mistress and trying to find your footing in the game when there seem to be a myriad of rules designed to get you out is hard enough back in the minor leagues, let alone when dining at the top-table against a team as experienced as dunnhumby. The result might not have gone our way but the improvement from first innings to last was marked and the newbies in particular impressed with how quickly they picked up the game, showing immense promise for the rest of the season. 

Catch of the Match: Apart from Kat coming so close to gloving an absolute rocket to seal the award (and also tried to stop one with her shin for good measure) I think this week there is absolutely no contest for a man who could have won it twice over for his Matrix-like déjà vu moments on first base. Not only was Rich Baker a reliable source of outs with his cool temperament on first base, he also took two insane catches in consecutive innings. When their big batters took advantage of some loose pitching to fizz an absolute schnitzelrocket off the centre of the bat there was a collective intake of breath among the PFers as it seemed guaranteed to find the rough and lead to a homerun. While usually the 6”5” frame of Rich would be beneficial when taking catches at length but these body drives handcuffed him if anything and looked likely to do some damage. Instead he threw a mitt (worn on his wrong hand no less) at the ball and to everyones’ amazement it stuck, with some swearing they saw sparks spitting off the ball. It was a once-in-a-season catch. Apart from the fact he repeated the move the very next innings to cement the award this week. 

Dick of the Day: Killip did his best to sneak this award in the pub after by admitting a late ball he let fly past him in the last innings was “because we’d already lost and I didn’t want to dive and hurt myself” however this week it has to go to Charlotte Stubbs after she almost ensured the first match ended in A&E. While most batters stand square to the ball and look to drive the ball back into the field it seems Charlotte was either not wanting to miss out on the gossip going on in the PF batting line-up or was simply hindered by the scarf and hood she kept on to bat in. Either way her shoulders had twisted to almost face our team. When their pitcher flung an errant ball to her leg-side the writing was on the wall and she stepped back onto her heel, closed her eyes and swung for the stars. Needless to say she made the sweetest connection of the day and would’ve been nailed on for MOTM if the ball had found the open field for a home-run. Unfortunately it cracked off the bat at a rate of knots in the way she was facing to fizz in between the team, missing Lisa and Emily by millimeters. While the players were lucky to escape with their lives Emily’s Tupperware was caught in the crossfire and got absolutely obliterated on impact. 

Thanks to Adam and Lisa for getting the softball teamsheets’ up – hopefully Wednesday was a mere aberration on a season likely to end in silverware. It would be great to see some more new faces down there next week so if you haven’t signed up please get your name up on the board and come and witness who Charlotte almost brains next week…