Thursday, June 29, 2006

Softball Lesson #8

So our 8th defeat... and what did we learn this week?

8.1 "Illegal Ball"

If while batting the Umpire shouts illegal ball, that means in their opinion the pitch is so pants and rubbish that it's called a ball and you can relax and ignore it.
However if you decide to ignore the Umpires 'good eye' and hit the ball.... RUN !!!!
Andy thinks if you swing and miss it's a strike.

8.2 Over Running the Base.

If like Michael you are really fast or a juggernaut like Mark, it's sometimes difficult to stop on a base. The best way to slow down is to slide but due to our intimate relationship with ER i won't advise that (this season)
So you need to get back on the base. Most often the fielder will be standing on the base with the ball... if so, they have to TAG you. So get any part of your body on the base without them touching you with the ball. I demonstrated the 'crouching tiger spring' to a select audience last night
This rule also applies if running back to your base if the ball is caught.
Once the ball is caught, the batter is out AND all forces are off, so every runner must be TAGGED regardless of which way they are running.
I would point out that our queen of second base Vic applied such a tag out after the normally 100% efficient and accurate short stop sold her short. The runner over ran and Vic tagged her and despite the runner thinking they were safe, they were OUT!! well played "Queen Vic"

8.3 Finsbury Flies Bite

My beautiful legs have been badly bitten. So in future I will ignore any comments about me smelling like a toilet duck and liberally apply insect repellent. I suggest people do the same.

8.4 SuperBen's Kryptonite

While there is no doubting the Superness of Super Ben, he unfortunately also has his kryptonite weakness. As soon as the ball hits the bat Ben's entire audio sensory equipment shuts down leaving him completely deaf and unaware of the shouts of fellow team mates. Whether we need to hold up signs or buy Ben a hearing aid is for a future discussion.

well played

Loan Wolves v Richmond Swingers 1-20

Another heroic night for the Wolves, playing at home and facing not only a team from the top of the table, but also blinding sunlight and hard ground causing the softballs to going bouncing all over the place. Well that’s my excuse for getting a softball in the face anyway! I am very disappointed not to have a huge bruise this morning. Just a slight yet very tender, bump on my eyebrow.
Despite the difficult terrain, some fumbled balls and some shocking throws (me most definitely included. I was aiming for 1st, honest), we fielded well, not getting the mercy rule till the 5th innings and even preventing the Swingers scoring at all in one innings. However their big hitters proved difficult to stop. At times this was a good thing. If Manjiv had managed to get in the way of the one that that flew past her at high speed at head height having bounced off the ground in front of her, it would have certainly stung a bit, in fact it would have probably knocked her out. Ouch.
Overall it was another good team effort all round. Michael was a real asset in the outfield, all the cricketing practice paying off with some huge throws in. A good first outing as a Wolf. Alison made her return, stepping in bravely as catcher and taking out some of her pent up softball frustration on the ball by going up to bat, proving that she is raring to go once back to full fitness. Julian produced some great pitching and had a good batting innings too. Jane C stepped up despite feeling a bit under the weather and made a fantastic hit that dropped right in the sweet spot between in-field and out-field. Jane A proved once again that she is a very safe pair of hands on 1st. Alex showed up, was subbed in and promptly injured his knee. Not a great night for him. At least he looked good doing it, going out in style with a slide into 3rd. Peter managed to cause confusion all round when he was unable to stop the swing he had started on a ball from an illegal pitch. There were lots of bemused fielders trying to work out what our silent hand signals to Peter meant. It’s hard to tell someone to run without the opposition realising. New rule learnt and duly noted. Well done to Ben for scoring our only run. Paul would like it noted that he got Ben round with his hit!
My personal highlights – getting tagged out twice in a row in one innings (so harsh), getting to first base (hurrah! That’s twice now!), and managing to tag out the runner on 2nd who though she was home and safe. Just goes to show you, always stay on your base!!!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Practice at Clapham

Ben and I had some useful training on Monday at Clapham. Darren gave us some detailed coaching on batting. Also had us attempting catches in the out-field and the in-field. He is an excellent trainer.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Our thoughts today are with Richard, Tina, and Daisy Alice Hornshaw...

An argument with a softball...the softball won

I was roped into babysitting this weekend, and managed to cajole my brother in law to go out for a quick practice in return. I was feeling pretty good as my catching skills are slowly getting better...when the inevitable happened - I was ambushed by a softball in the face! Actually, scrap that...I'm going to say that I heroically managed to block the softball by any means necessary (sounds better). Worry not team - the ball actually deflected off my glove and hit me on the mouth. All I suffered was a slight cut and a swollen lip (which was looking very Daffy Duckish yesterday). There are lessons to be learnt here...and no doubt I will learn them sometime....Byeee

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Loan Wolves 5 Cheetahs 39 - at Clapham

The score doesnt really reflect how hard the Wolves tried. The Cheetahs are an experienced team - they have been playing for 10 years.

The fielding and batting are both improving. There were some useful catches from Paul, Richard and Peter. Pitching of Kate, Manjiv and Julian is coming along well. Poor Andy turned up with his nasty injury just above the eye showing and did some scoring. Jane A. performed heroics on 1st base. New players Monica and Mark made great contributions in the batting department. Jane C. was a dynamo on 2nd base.

Afterwards went to the pub and had some interesting conversation with some of the Cheetahs. They seemed a very nice bunch.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

In stitches (not for the squeamish)

Today, five Wolves took up an invitation to a training session and practice game with the Tornadoes (the side we only lost to by a point). Lovely day for it, and they were a friendly bunch. We practised throwing, pitching (Manjiv was doing well at that) and batting, then had a practice game. I was fielding in the outfield, and missed a catch. Well, didn't miss it exactly - it skipped off my glove I think, and cannoned into my face. I first noticed stinging pain, then blood, then realised that my sunglasses were somehow stuck to my head. I was thankful to find that I could see clearly from both eyes. The glasses had in fact smacked into my brow, opened a cut, and jammed the flesh between the frame and the lens (my sunglasses are impact-resistant plastic, and worth every penny of the extra I spent, as the lenses stayed intact and so did my eyes).
Now, as these things go, it could have been a lot worse. Not least that the Tornadoes had a qualified doctor and a paramedic among them, and first aider Jane was with us. I'd brought my first aid kit as usual, which was handy as no-one else had one. From the first, I could tell that aside from the nasty cut and inevitable bruising I'd suffered nothing serious. The paramedic and Jane freed my eye from the sunglasses, inevitably tearing the skin a little more, and dressed the wound, then Hoppo (the Tornadoes' captain) drove Jane & I to A&E.
We watched the Japan-Croatia game in A&E while waiting for me to be seen. Eventually, I was seen by a friendly practitioner nurse. She asked how it had happened and everything, plus a bunch of other required questions. "Any other sports or hobbies?". So I said medieval swordfighting. She insisted on putting that down on the form - "that's the only time I'll get to put that!" she said happily. The bleeding was still continuing, due to what PN Julie called "a persistent little bleeder" - a small blood vessel at the edge of the wound which wouldn't close. So I got sutures - five of them in total. Which meant that Manjiv won the sweepstake we were holding via text message as to who'd guess the number of stitches. It wasn't too pleasant an experience, but I didn't blub, and the little bleeder has now been stifled. It occured to me as I was being stitched that if I'd held on to the catch, it would have been the third out, and finished the other side's inning. We were winnning, too.
Jane used my camera to snap lots of cool pictures of me at different stages (face covered with blood, being stitched up, etc).
Interesting experience. Glad I always take that little first aid kit stuffed in my bat bag - I shall continue to do so, and the Tornadoes' professional medics said they'd be doing something similar from now on. They were great, and Jane's first aid and support, spending her Sunday afternoon in AE with me, were also really appreciated.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Loan Wolves 1 - 30 Glove Me Tender

The team was surprisingly up for this clash with the table-topping GMT. Manjiv in particular was so fired up and bouncing arund with excitement that she earned herself the nickname "Tigger" from Jane A. For once, we had no spare male players, and I was fielding at Second Base. I'd forgotten how much more involved in the plays the infielders are.
Weather was sunny, after a cold, damp, day (which meant that for part of the game, the setting sun was right in my eyes at Second), and the pitch had been mowed recently.
The scoreline reflects that the other side were better than us, but doesn't really do us justice. Our performace defensively was very tight for much of the game, and after three innings we were only 7-1 down. Sadly, their fielding, their infield in particular, was really sharp and we had a hard job to get runs ourselves. Then one big inning for them just about did for us. As Paul said, at higher levels it becomes very hard to get to First. I did at least manage that, but also got out at First from hits that in other games would have seen me safely on base. Meanwhile, GMT stole a lot of bases, and gave us plenty of work trying to keep the forces on and the run total down.
I managed to achieve one of my little goals for the season - tagged a runner out.
Darren's team were playing on the other pitch (they won), and we had a natter with him at the pub after the game. I got to wear my vintage letter sweater for the first time, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Regents Park Development Practice

A beautiful summer evening for our practice in Regents Park. Jane A. and Ben and myself plus others from various groups. The coaches were Kim and Ronnie. We practised our throwing and also did an exercise which involved one person running round the bases while fielders threw the ball from base to base - testing accuracy of throwing. Also had alot of batting practice using that pole like a golfing tee for hitting the ball off.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


No game this week, but we got some practice in.
A bunch of us went to the Northwick Park batting cages on Wednesday. We booked three cages for an hour, and had a lot of fun hitting things with bits of metal. You press a button, and fifteen balls in a row are launched at you. I hit 105, I counted (well, I missed some of them, but I swung at them all). I think we all had fun, and it was nice to be able to experiment with trying to place the ball, or hit big pop-ups, without worrying about getting out. Shame that the machines tended to jam occasionally, though.

We also had a good practice on Friday evening, at Finsbury Park. The weather's been glorious, and for the first time I realised that it really is meant to be a Summer game. A nice evening wearing sunglasses, enjoying the heat and the park, hitting and fielding, and working on in-game situations.
I'm missing one of the softballs I had with me on Friday, BTW. If someone's picked one up marked "APJH", it's mine.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

"I lettered in softball..."

I went to a really cool vintage clothing shop yesterday. Didn't expect to buy anything, but I am now the proud owner of an original 1940s high school jock's "letter sweater", complete with a baseball/softball badge (with original tiny wooden bat and glove). It's a bit moth-eaten, but it's in our colours - black, with orange letter and arm-stripes.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tornadoes 16 - 15 Loan Wolves

[X-posted from my LJ, as usual]

Well, we had our best game of the season so far.
One that went all the way to the seventh inning, with no danger of the "mercy rule" being invoked. One where we made more runs than in all four of our previous games put together.
Played in Wandsworth Park, on a newly-mown pitch smelling of fresh hay (and why is it that everyone else's home grounds are nicer than ours?). Finally, we were matched with a team we could compete with. Despite being ahead at one point, and a "3 up, 3 down" inning where we got them out without a run scored, we couldn't quite nail that elusive first win. Some good pitching, excellent fielding, but we just didn't quite make the runs we needed. Perhaps we were confused by the opposition also wearing orange - I don't know. Afraid my batting, until the final inning, was below par. I'd cleaned my bat yesterday evening, and now it seemed I couldn't do a thing with it. Did contribute to our seven-run final inning with a second-base hit and a run, at least. In the field, a big hit in my direction escaped me, but I was saved by the fact that the batter had stepped out of his box and was therefore already out.
Three minor injuries for the team, so par for the course there. But it was good for our morale to know that we can give a decent account of ouselves when we have to.
Batting practice at the cages in Northwick Park next week. Looking forward to that.