On the 9th of April our MK Diamonds tournament team headed to Farnham Park baseball & softball complex for a day of softball fun on the fancy dirt pitches. The team consisting of players from all four MK softball league teams plus a few Canadian guest stars (thanks Jo & Nicole!) were in great spirits from the off as the weather forecast proved correct for once and the sun shined bright like a diamond!
The tournament was a fundraiser for the GB Slowpitch squad which meant we were assigned a GB 'buddy' for the day, Jon Reynolds, who did a fantastic job of scoring and fetching pitchers of beer throughout the day!
The first game of the day was against the Oxford Spirits and with a bet already placed on the outcome by Jon and the opponents' GB buddy the pressure was on! Captain Trevor Morley started the day by winning the coin toss, setting the scene for the rest of the tournament where he kept a 100% toss winning record. Skillz.
The team took to the field and had a nervous start with a few fielding errors creeping in however this did not last too long and the third out was made after conceding two runs. Jo Malisani led off for the Diamonds at bat followed by Craig Holmes and their speed was too much for the Spirits quickly making their way round the diamond on a few bats and equalising the score. A further two runs were scored before the Spirits made the third out meaning the Diamonds led the first inning 4-2. However this lead didn't last long as in the second inning the Spirits scored 3 and shut out the Diamonds taking the lead 5-4. After conceding another two runs in the top of the third inning the team finally managed to get their bats going scoring a whopping 6 runs taking the lead and this time not losing it as they closed out the match 14-10.
After an hours break and a lot of sun cream application the team took to the pitch against Game of Throws in what was to be the lowest scoring game of the day. For the first three innings just one run was scored by each team. In the third inning the opponents managed to get in to their stride and score 3 runs, and eventually the Diamonds used a 'buy back' - as part of the fundraising element of the day each team had a number of vouchers to allow them to replay an at bat - to prevent a further two runs being scored and make the final out. However the Diamonds got a a taste of their own medicine as a home run from Adam Bee was bought back not once but twice over the next few innings! The team went in to their final at bat trailing by 3 runs they quickly scored two of these but time was called before they could score a third and the Diamonds went down 5-4.
There was no time for tears though as the team headed straight back out to face the Thames Valley Hurricanes. Clearly the defeat served to spur the Diamonds on as their bats showed no mercy racking up an impressive 20 runs (16 in one inning!) to the Hurricanes 5, helped by home runs from Brad Davidson and Leah Holmes. It wasn't just the bats that were dominant however with some impressive fielding at second base from Jake Clarke, a great game from Robyn Hillyard at first base and one particular relay in from Leah in Left Field to Nicole Ratel at third and then to Katie O'Toole at Catcher for the tag out at home leaving the Hurricanes runner in a spin!
The final game in the group stage was against the Maidenhead Rebels and the team knew a win against them would put them in with a good chance of finishing in the top two and qualifying for the final. In the first inning the Rebels scored 4 runs while the Diamonds only managed 2, an impressive dive (one of many!) from Jo making a steal to third base. However the bats heated up in the second inning along with the drama... The Rebels scored three further runs but when it came to the Diamonds a run of single base hits saw the team score one run and the bases loaded with Trevor in the batters box. He hit a fantastic single scoring two of the runners, however the team's joy was short lived as the dreaded buy back token was once again brought out. The runners headed back to their bases and Trevor once again faced up to the pitcher, this time the pressure got the better of him and a fly ball meant he would not have advanced so his team mates dug deep and used a buy back of their own. Their faith was rewarded as a double brought home the runners once again. Finally after much debate on how many buy backs each team was allowed to use the Rebels were permitted to yet again buy back the play and Trevor was forced to return, again, to the box. The batting practice obviously paid off as this time he went even better and hit a grand slam home run finally silencing the Rebels 15-7!
Unfortunately dreams of a final weren't to be as the Diamonds discovered they had finished in joint second place with Game of Throws who qualified ahead of them due to the head to head result. However the team can be proud of another third place finish and a brilliant day had by all. Special shout out to Cathy Ford who topped the batting stats for the day, closely followed by Nicole Ratel & Jo proving girl power is still going strong.
Fancy giving a tournament a go? Check out our calendar here and book your place now!