Demonstration softball tournamment, as part of a "touch rugby" and netball event. As it turned out, the expected four teams didn't make it - just us Loan Wolves and the Barracudas, plus a couple of guys from Oblivion (both experienced sides). We ended up with the Oblivion guys on our team, as we were short-handed (our captain having decided to go sailing).
Weather was good - mostly sunny, though somewhat chilly, but not the overcast and rainy day which had been threatened.
We had supporters, which was nice - Ben's dad and brother were there to encourage us from the sidelines.
The "tournament" effectively became a series between the two teams. We lost the first game conclusively, paying the price for our relative inexperience (only three competitive games played before yesterday). The second game, however, was much better. We were actually ahead by two runs after the first innings, then level after the second. The Barracudas pulled ahead, but we managed to level the scores again (with 10 runs made in one inning), though in the end they won in the bottom of the last.
Third game, after lunch (£2.50 for a sausage in a bun), soon became a practice session for both sides, with no meaningful result. Some of the Barracudas, and the Oblivion guys, had left, and various rugby and netball players came in to try the game for twenty minutes at a time, with spare players (and organisers Darren, Tim & Wendy) filling in for whichever side was short of players at any given point.
Acting-captain had Ben put in a lot of work drawing up team lists for each game to try us out at different fielding positions, and working out a batting line-up. I played at second base, then short stop, then at left field. I was also lead-off batter, opening our batting line-up. We had Julian, Alison and Manjiv as our pitchers for the three games, all gaining vital match-play experience. Manjiv was flattered to be told by Darren that she had "real potential" as a pitcher. Paul, our most experienced player, was a real asset in the field, and Jane did some tremendous batting. Alex made runs, and, importantly, batted a lot of other runners in, and Julian learned that he favoured a lighter bat, and did well with it. I think we all did well, individually and as a team. We scored runs (including a home-run made with my bat - though not by me], took catches, made double-plays, struck batters out (nice work Alison, who also proved to be very much at home at third base), and were far more aware of the game and how to play it than we were six months ago. We also became less self-conscious about shouting out where the "play" is (which bases to throw to for forced outs), and shouting encouragement to each other, like the other teams tend to. e.g.:
[batter swings wildly at a pitch and misses]
Runner on base [to batter]: "Nice swing!"
Me [to Julian, the pitcher]: "Nice pitch!"
Runner [to me]: "Touche!"
Having novice players in the last game meant we got to be the "experts", which was fun. It was quite gratifying acting as base-coach to a rookie player, and getting her round to score. Explaining how to use the glove to catch safely, I found myself comparing broken fingers with someone who'd fractured hers playing netball. Sport, eh - why do we do it?
My fielding contibution was nothing special (what a surprise), though calling out plays from short-stop was cool. I did enjoy batting and base-running. Put a line drive cleanly through the infield, ran to base, and the baseman commented ruefully; "you found the hole there!". Also was complimented by a scorer on my speed running in to home past a fielder going for the ball. Also managed to trip over the bat when setting off at one point, but somehow scrambled to my feet and reach first base.
The pre-season game experience was really valuable for us all, in many ways. Not least that in that second game we were able to give a credible account of ourselves against a superior side in a competitive environment.