In what has now become an annual event, the Raiders held an invitational tournament for D comp teams, as an opportunity for the less experienced or talented among us to get vital match-play practice and sharpen our skills against sides of our own level. It's an extremely friendly, relaxed affair, but it's still a proper competitive day of playing. They field several sides of their own, and invite entries from the more clubbable lower division teams. Such as the Loan Wolves. This time it was being held as a fund-raiser for the GB Women's softball team ahead of the European Championships. So our entry fees went to this good cause, there was a raffle, and they had T shirts for sale. I can't resist a good T shirt, so am now the proud owner of a Great Britain Softball shirt.
The tournament takes place at Wandsworth Common. Each team had four games, which for us fell as two set of back-to-back matches with a break. Rules were slightly more relaxed than in the league, and there was the quirky "buy back" rule in effect. Each team gets one opportunity per game to buy the umpire a beer in exchange for rewinding and undoing a play which has just happened - a catch isn't dropped, a batter hasn't struck out or whatever after all. But the player who's got the reprieve does have to wear comedy bunny ears for the rest of the inning...
We were a bit short-handed, but we had Mark from the Homers joining us for the day plus a stray female player from one of the other teams each game. First up we took on the Meteors (heavily fortified with spare Raiders), and won. Then we came up against one of the Raiders sides and didn't do so well. After our hour off, we faced another Raiders team. This time we came up with the goods, even with a lot of us playing in unfamiliar positions. This was the game where Gabi got hit by a nasty one to the knee. She was moved to Catcher, to give her a chance to recover out of the line of fire, but was almost immediately hit in the face by a ricochet off the bat.
The final game was against the Tornadoes. The game went our way, as we batted ourselves into a strong position. The final inning saw them with three minutes to overturn a sixteen-point lead, and as a heavy shower started to fall the game came to an end.
We headed over the road to Dexter's, where negotiating the service and getting our two-for-one deal vouchers honoured was a bit of a trial, but we tucked in to our pub food and bottled beer happily as we discussed the day's play. We fielded and pitched well, but more importantly our batting was consistent throughout the team all day - that was probably the heart of our success.