The MK Diamonds brought home more silverware after winning the Jive trophy at Disco Ball. This is a development event and several players were travelling to their first tournament. Disco Ball is a also a great opportunity for less experienced players to play on the dirt pitches at Farnham Park.
Captain Paul Severn had the line ups ready which left vital time available for a vigorous ‘warm-up’ which is already setting a new fitness trend in elite softball.
(It's unclear whether Chris Flynn was doing a calf stretch or looking for his contact lens).
First up was the Maidenhead Rascals who mischievously sneaked into a 2-0 lead at the top of the first. However, Tim Welch, leading off, reduced the arrears with a solo home run off the first pitch he faced – an incredible start! Tim was also the Diamonds’ pitcher for the day and was showing full commitment to the cause, running directly at full speed into some chain fencing attempting to catch a fly ball.
Kimberley Angell was also off to a fast start with one of the best hits of the day, but after a couple of unlucky umpiring calls, the Diamonds lost 13-4 – leaving Nikki Welch absolutely fuming! The Diamonds battled until the end and Yolly Potter turned a superb double play at home plate to keep the score down against an excellent team that went on to make the final.
Next up with was Meteors Green. Marcie Gray was rivalling Paul’s warm-up for intensity, swapping the fag in game one for a pint of lager ahead of the Meteors clash. Paul followed Tim’s example with a lead-off home run, cheekily sneaking home after a loose ball. Chris Russell followed suit with an almost identical play to leave the Meteors burning up. Shosh Dzialoszynki put the seal on a magnificent 10-4 win with her first ever home run – a huge hit down the third base line – leading to wild celebrations and this rather excellent photo, bringing back fond memories of Chris’s photographic debut in the MK Citizen newspaper.
Sadly, the group stages ended disappointingly with Diamonds going down 12-4 to Finsbury Knights. A fine comeback was launched with a cleverly placed base hit by Kim Davies, but the revival came a little too late and the score didn’t reflect the closeness of the game.
After a well-earned lunch break, it was time for the Jive semi-final for the third placed teams. The Diamonds faced the rather dapper Suitballers, who were all wearing a variety of smart attire and handing out business cards. Tim Welch again handled pitching duties admirably but let one early pitch slip – firing it up vertically. It went so high it escaped the gravitational pull of the Earth and drifted into outer space, before it finally settled into the orbit of the Kuiper Belt in the far reaches of the Solar System.
The Diamonds got off to a great start leading 6-0, but the Suitballers stylishly got back into the game to tie it 7-7. Only some great fielding kept the Diamonds in the hunt with some spectacular catches from Marcie Gray, Paul Severn and Jules Peck, plus some solid work on first by Robert Welch. Perhaps the key play of the game was when a Suitballers base-runner overran third base and came off the bag as he fell over. Chris Flynn shouted so loudly it left Jules’s ears ringing before he pounced to tag the stricken Suitballer runner, who looked like he was dressed for an asset management conference.
This meant extra innings and the Diamonds weren’t going to be denied and took the win 11-9 in a nailbiting finale played in great spirit and humour.
There was a real feeling of momentum building going into the Jive final. However, Tim Welch was still getting used to being called “Tim” on the field by his own children, and hearing them being called “Rob” and “Nikki” rather than “Robert” and “Nicola”. All three did themselves proud and a real achievement for one family to make up a quarter of a tournament squad!
It was now time for the serious moves in the Jive final against BYOB. Shosh spotted an error in Paul’s line-up and told him to stay for a detention after school until it was rectified. Things didn’t start too well with BYOB jumping out to a big lead, with Chris Russell at shortstop handling some stinging ground balls. Going into the final inning of the day, the Diamonds looked blunted at 13-6 in arrears. However, the Diamonds dug deep and weren’t finished.
In perhaps my favourite inning in my time playing softball, a relatively inexperienced line-up combined some great hitting, base-running and patience at the plate to tie the game. As everyone held their breath, Shosh got the count to 3-0 with the bases loaded. One more ball and the trophy was in the bag. But Shosh wasn’t having a walk, and smashed the ball over third base to score Nikki Welch to secure a win (and celebration) that we will all remember for a long time.
At the start of the day the aim was very much to have fun, swing the bats, give newer players game experience in different positions, and bat up and down the line-up. It was really inspirational to see all the skills taught by our fabulous coaches on Tuesdays nights come to the fore in game situations. The success was fully deserved as we headed back to Milton Keynes with the silverware.