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As the indoor season draws to a close and the days start to get longer, plans are rapidly taking shape for the eagerly awaited outdoor season.

While it has been great to play our first indoor league at Radcliffe School, all players are looking forward to being unleashed into the great outdoors – hitting homeruns, catching flyballs, getting wet in the rain and fishing softballs out of the prickly hedges! And it promises to be a bigger and better season in 2017…

As announced recently, there are an impressive seven teams taking part. Joining the existing Milton Keynes teams (Willow Lakers, Double D’s and Homerun Hornets) are the Roundabout Rhinos – the new name for Team Mystery who competed in the indoor league. Look out for the new Rhinos logo which was designed by Siobhan, daughter of Rhinos’ player Eddy Verbeek.

The Towcester Tigers will again be making the journey down the A5 and we are delighted to welcome the Herts Buzzards and Northants Praetorians to the league to ensure some real inter-county rivalry! The Northants team has been renamed from Centurions to Praetorians for the coming season. The name is taken from another type of Roman guard but the team is yet to confirm if they will be sporting tunics in the coming season.

There have been a number of player changes in the Milton Keynes teams. The outdoor champions the Hornets have lost Louis Sandford (who is focusing his triathlons) and Natalie Davis will be watching from the sidelines this season as she is growing a baby Hornet.

It’s all change for the Double Ds who lose homerun king Lee Grafton and Mark Exley who have both moved away with work. However, the great news is that Sophie Shkurko and Brad Davidson are back from injury. Shoshana-Toli Dzialoszynski was one of the stars of the indoor league playing for virtually every team at some point. However, her nomadic days came to an end when she signed up with the D’s. While that was great news for the D’s, it was problematic for their kit manufacturer who had to find a font small enough to fit her name on the back of her shirt.

The Rhinos roster is beginning to come together and have secured a big new signing in Jon Reynolds, formally of the D’s. The Holmes household was locked in tense negotiations over the deal, before Craig relented and accepted Leah’s offer of a packet of M&Ms and his offer to tidy the kitchen.

The Rhinos will see many new players join the league, including Chloe Love and Carl Billson from Warwickshire and their latest signing Vijay Chauhan who brings some London style to Buckinghamshire.

Finally, indoor finalists the Willow Lakers welcome Laura Henchy to their squad and hope for some slightly better weather for their games after getting several soakings last season.

There are still places left in the majority of teams so get in touch if you're interested, in particular we hope to see members of the recent female beginners’ course join in with outdoor training and join teams in the coming months.

The last Softball Weekly email contained details about membership fees and the new fixtures are now available on our website, so get those dates in your diaries.

Will the Homerun Hornets be buzzing again and retain their title? Will the Double D’s come bouncing back after final disappointment? Will the Lakers set sail for the top of the league? Will the Rhinos crush all before them? Will the Tigers claw their way to the final? Will the Buzzards get their opponents in a flap? Will the Praetorians put the league to the sword? Will there be enough puns left to keep our reports going through the season?

Find out soon – the first game is the Double D’s @ Willow Lakers on Tuesday, 11 April.

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