Monday, June 30, 2008

Raiders Invitational Part Deux

Sunshine, friendly people and softball - what more could you ask for on a Sunday afternoon?

Ten wolves made their (sometimes meandering) way to Wandsworth Common for the second of the mini-tournaments organised by the Raiders. This time the Raiders had put together two teams (Tea and Coffee) and invited along the Meteors as well, so it was three games each on two pitches.

The Wolves started off with a good strong win against Raiders Tea before deciding to mix up positions and try a few things out in the second match against the Meteors. Before we knew it we were 10-0 down! Much as we like to practise and experiment, we also like to win (now that we've got a taste for it) and it was back to our normal fielding positions for the rest of the match. From then on we started to field much better, and some great hits particularly from the lads notched us up a few runs. Olivia's fantastic catch in the outfield has to get a mention - even though they 'bought it back'. We took advantage of the very same 'buy-back' rule to make Alison bat again in red devil horns, and before we knew it, it was 'tied ball game'. Up we went to bat, and I was very exicted to find myself on base and in the position of being the 'winning run'. Despite Matt's comments that I 'run in slow motion', I made it around and victory was ours for the second time that day.

Off we trudged to the other diamond for the last proper match of the day. Another closely run game sadly slipped away from us and when time ran out we were down two runs. However, it was certainly worth it to see Kevin batting in bunny ears after we bought back this strike out.

As we all know, you can never have enough softball and so on we played - this time Raiders against the rest of the world. I'm not sure anyone was scoring all that closely by this stage, but I think it's safe to say that the Raiders won. Loads of people had a go at pitching and even with a ridiculously long batting line-up it was great to have a few more swings.

A hugely fun afternoon, topped off with the traditional trip to the pub - just for old times sake.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

High Point - Low Point (Fair and Squares)

Ok guys let's do it. Remember the format - low point first, finish on the high point. One thing for each and it must be personal. You cannot say that your high point was watching Kevin slide into home and take out 3 of their players - unless you are Kevin! (I know that didn't really happen, but it's only a matter of time!)

I'll start:

Low Point: Striking out with two swings. I haven't struck out all season!

High Point: Getting three strike outs in one innings.

Lessons Learned? If the fielder is standing aimless on your running line, make them get out of your way, or shout 'obstruction'. I ran around him, and then was out on the force at 2...only just!

Squares 18 - 15 Loan Wolves

I left my joggers at home yesterday morning, so had to wear the trousers I had on at work to play in.
We were away to the Squares, a team of Americans. At Hyde Park - I didn't know there were softball pitches there. Not the best of venues - very crowded (sharing the outfield with other games, from a charities/museums league, though these games all finished early), and with an incredibly uneven and pitted surface.
It wasn't a good game for us. We didn't play as well as we know we can, and somehow let ourselves get too down about it. We missed outs we should have made, and our batting, despite some good hits, wasn't up to snuff. I was appalling - felt as if my batting standard had slipped back to where I started three years ago. I managed to take an easy catch (as Catcher). Kate, who pitched an excellent game, had told me before the match that I had to catch one off her pitching. Next time, please also tell me to hit a home run, Kate.
We're halfway through the season now, played six, won four. We're just in second place. Not a bad position, really, though it might have been better if we'd played to our full potential last night. In my case, I know I should have played much less badly than I did. I'm blaming my trousers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fat Cats 11 - 14 Loan Wolves

Fat Cats are a re-formed team - the "Black Cats" of a few years ago, a very capable side. When they re-entered the league they had to start in our division. They'd played five and won five - easily - before tonight. Our run of wins had been ended last week, as you may remember. Could we pick ourselves up again and give a decent account of ourselves against the strongest team in the division?
We were playing at Finsbury Park again, so didn't have the wonky pitch from last week to contend with at least. A dark rain cloud hovered overhead, launching showers on us, but there were blue skies and ice-cream white clouds visible beyond it. At one point, looking out from Catcher's position, I saw a vision of luminous green grass, long shadows, raindrops like diamonds in the late evening sun and even a rainbow, which would surely have won us an Oscar for cinematography had it been a movie. But it wasn't a movie. It was a ball game.
The opposition were strong, but we were not weak. Excellent pitching from Kate gave us the framework we needed. Our batting was solid. I batted 1.000, with no walks all night, and made one hit fine inside the Third Base line out of the infield which I was quite pleased with. We ran extra bases where they were to be found without taking stupid risks. Our fielding was sharp. We kept them from getting easy runs and ended their innings quickly, which gave us a lead. Then they rallied and nosed ahead. But we reversed that, and went into the bottom of the final innings defending a five point lead. A couple of outs, a couple of runs to the opposition. Then Vic intercepted a hit to right field and tagged out the runner trying for second. And it was over. The Cats' five game winning streak was ended.
Over to you, Mr Kipling:
"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf
And the strength of the Wolf is the Pack"

[X-posted from my Livejournal]

Loan Wolves 14 - Fat Cats 11

It was feline versus lupine last night as the skies darkened above Finsbury Park.

Having umpired a couple of games against the top-of-the-table Fat Cats, we knew they could hit, and we knew they had a reasonable idea about the it was some nervous, but excited Wolves who showed up early to warm up, run practice drills and settle into the pitch.

As the away team we batted first. A string of good solid base hits got us on the scoreboard in an important innings. We then held the Cats to nothing for the next two innings.

As is the way with us Wolves, we never do things the easy way - a dip in the middle meant that the Cats put on 6 runs in 4th innings. We then knew that we needed to keep it tight.

We stepped up to the plate literally and metaphorically - got those all important runs in and held their scoring to a minimum. It got a bit heated for a while there over a few close calls. I'm thinking we probably wouldn't have made the appeals if the game hadn't been so tight, but all those hours at umpire school have got to be worth something!

Anyhow, after the full 7 innings, by hook or by crook, victory was secured for Wolf-kind!

Personally I got a particular kick out of holding them to nothing in an innings by getting three straight outs at first, but it's indisputable to say that everyone played a part tonight. Batting sensibly and consistently, holding runners, keeping the force on and getting those outs!

Three cheers for the Loan Wolves!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mix-a-lot Tournament - Finsbury Park 14th June 2008

Some stray Wolves, a few Homers and a whole load of Meteors got together on a sunny Saturday afternoon for a mix-up mini tournament. The idea was that people get to play with and against some different people to their usual bunch. The three captains disappeared into the club house whilst we warmed up and emerged with three 'random' team line ups.

I was a lone loan wolf on the self-proclaimed 'best looking team', with the other orange shirts split between the other two teams. Each team played the other two teams in a timed match. It was great fun to play with all sort of different people and also interesting to play against our usual team-mates.

After the three matches, the sun was still shining and the beer was still flowing, so we decided to go for a 'Meteors v the rest of the world' match. I got to have a go at pitching, which was great, and I only gave away one walk - we got him at 2 anyway, so no harm done. I was particularly proud of my pitch and catch, and I have a pretty impressive bruise on my ankle from a particularly fierce line-drive. It was a close game, but the Meteors got us in the end and it was off to the pub for more beer and some table football.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moment of the Match - Tribold

Great team patience in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings to accept walks and hit good shots to put us in the lead with a chance of winning.

Bad throw from Shortstop to First, then the throw to 2nd and Kevin tagging the guy as he went passed the base
Manjiv getting the last out in 4 of the first 5 innings
Matt wanting an extra centimetre
Kate wanting an extra inch
Kate suggesting giving a bit more arse
Blasey's home run hit
Manjiv striking out the girl who wouldn't swing
The double play at 3rd
Manjiv giving the ball to Donnacha at home to get the player out
Matt's out at 1st that wasn't given
Vic and Joel being struck out by pitches that never went over shoulder height and practically hit their ankles over the plate
The overgrown outfield where softballers go to die
The sun over the pitcher which made hitting difficult
The blue who made deciding which balls to hit difficult

Runner-up - Joel's Grand Slam that wasn't given as Vic allegedly (my arse) missed 3rd
MOTM - Matt's cheeky "Can I look at the ball" and getting the girl out for missing 1st base

Loan Wolves 25 - 26 Tribold

Low Point: Losing to Tribold!!
Not being able to pitch within the very tight strike zone set out by the umpire.

High Point: Balling the umpire who must have been confused as to whether he was umpiring baseball or slowpitch softball.

Lesson Learned: Never listen to Blasey who insisted I only have 8 pitches to warm up before the game. Next time I'll warm up my way :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

High point and Low point

High point:
Watching 4 innings where the side got the basics right and shut them out

Low point:
Being 3rd base coach and yelling at Manjiv once Gareth hit it to go home from first and revised to 3rd but she stopped at second as she was watching the ball and got out.

Yet again we made mistakes but managed to secure a win due to good teamwork.

Moment of the Match - Chevy Chasers

Andy scambling back to 3rd base after looking to go home
Manjiv staying at 2nd as Gareth caught up with her
Kate being chased down by Kevin
Shutting them out for 4 of 6 innings
Julian pitching "in the zone" says Kate
Every player getting on base
Kevin's 3 run homer
Gareth's 3 RBI hit

Matt falling on his arse in the outfield
Kate yelling at the 3rd baseman to get out of the way
Kate informing the Blue that the players had left the bases early

2nd place:
Julian stopping a smashed hit on the shin and then chasing the ball to try to get the out

Andy running after a guy and tagging him after he didn't tag up

Thursday, June 05, 2008

No Mercy

The weather has brightened up, so we had a sunny evening for the game. Too sunny, if you were an infielder, as throws from the outfield were coming straight out of the sun. Still, better than the rain. There was plenty of mud left over from this week's wet weather, though. We had a practice beforehand, playing in our designated fielding positions, which helped us in the game.
The Chevy Chasers were a player short, as one of them had been taken ill. So they had an automatic out every tenth batter, and were one short in the outfield. Which helped, but wasn't the only reason for, our win. We won because we did things right. Not always well, but mostly right. We made some errors, especially in our third and fourth innings, where we gave them easy outs due to cavalier batting. But we tightened up, and made twelve runs in the fifth, with some good hitting and hustling around the bases. Two more, and we'd have won by the "mercy rule" for the first time ever. But in the end, we kept that lead till the bottom of the sixth, at which point the game was stopped for light without us needing to bat again.
We were the more experienced side, and that made all the difference. Good captaincy from Short Stop Kevin, and steady pitching from Julian.
We celebrated in the pub, and I ended up needing buses home. Still, it was worth it.

Wolves 20 - 07 Chevy Chasers

Wolves, can we make an addition to our weekly high point/low points? I suggest we add in a "lessons learned" item. Pick one error made by yourself (if any) or one thing you wished you had done better or want to improve next time around. For example:

Low Point: Getting stupidly caught out at third base due to not listening to the third base coach.

High Point: My best hit ever, a clean line drive straight between short stop and third base (not that I was looking of course) and not making a shambles at First Base.

Lesson Learned: Never ever watch the ball, always listen or watch the base coach for instructions :)

Over to you :)