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Hornets see off Rhinos’ charge to retain title

The Homerun Hornets withstood a strong fightback from the Roundabout Rhinos to keep hold of the Milton Keynes Softball League Trophy.

The final took place at Woughton-on-the-Green playing fields and drizzle began to fall as the teams warmed up, much to the delight of Rhinos pitcher Eddy Verbeek who isn’t comfortable unless he’s pitching in a monsoon.

But the rain soon cleared and the Hornets got to work early by taking a 7-0 first inning lead. The Rhinos tried to stem the swarm of Hornets runs and James Bradley’s juggling catch would’ve impressed the audience at Britain’s Got Talent.

Meanwhile the offering on the sidelines was equally impressive. Recently the UK lost a legend of light entertainment – Bruce Forsyth – but step forward Jake Clarke. His work on the mic was very impressive. Such are his talents he even managed to score the game at the same time. Jake likes nothing better than spending an evening pouring over a stats spreadsheet, although Richie Murray found nothing of interest in his semi-final batting figures.

Back on the field the Rhinos charged into action with some good hitting from Jon Reynolds and Liz Knight. The deficit was cut to 7-3 to keep scoreboard operator Sam Gibson busy (and enjoying getting on camera for the Facebook Live streaming).

The Hornets continued to build on their lead thanks to some patience at the plate from Kim Davies and Leanne Reynolds – cheered on by her Hornet-fanatic sons throughout. By the bottom of the 4th it was 17-6 with pitcher Alan Davis giving little away and backed up by some fine catches by Trevor Morley, Cathy Ford and Chris Borah. The Rhinos were fighting hard with both Steve Lamb and Vijay Chauhan both sliding so far past third on the slippy evening dew that they nearly ended up in the hedge.

On the sidelines, Craig Holmes was turning his hand to being a DJ. His mix of American classic baseball stadium tunes and 1930s organ music must have bewildered the nearby local residents.

The Rhinos started to clip the Hornets’ wings by getting back into the game, reducing the arrears to 17-11 by the end of the fifth. Jon Reynolds took over as pitcher and this resulted in a Reynolds v Reynolds family duel. Thankfully he didn’t knock his wife’s teeth out with a wild pitch.

However, the Rhinos’ charge came up short, with Robyn Hillyard taking the final catch and the game finished 19-13 to the Hornets. The traditional champagne was opened, although mascot James Reynolds did not look impressed when it spoilt his hair-do.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the League this year, especially the organisers, umpires, captains and of course the volunteers who helped at the Final. Congratulations to the Hornets! Buzz, Buzz, Buzz!