The EMSL returned to a three division format at the start of the 2017 season, but continued to run the league in two separate seasons; Spring and Summer, with promotion and relegation between the divisions.
The Summer league season started, as it always does, having said ‘adios’ to our two university teams as the students go back to their home towns.
This left four teams in Division 1, four in Div 2 and three in Div 3. Given that there are small numbers in each division, and to ensure the divisions don’t stagnate, the top and bottom divisions play the teams in their own grouping twice, but they also play a cross divisional game against each of the four teams in Div 2 as well.
It is the Leicester Royals setting the pace in the 3rd division with a 3&3 record, having beaten both opponents in their league (Rebels and Pulse) but also taking the scalp of the 2nd division Redbacks, while losing by only 1 run to Beavers, and in the game against Brewers (only just relegated from Div 1) they held their own all the way up to the end of the 6th inning, before narrowly losing 15-12.
Pulse (1&4), however, still have a mathematical, if slim, chance at the title if they can win their final 3 games, while Rebels (0&5) are looking to get their first points on the board.
In the middle tier the Beavers (3&7) have already completed their games, and having been promoted from Div 3 this was always going to be a testing season.However, whilst they lost all of their games to their Div 1 & 2 opponents, they did win all of their games over their lower level opposition, and it is the Redbacks (2&5) who find themselves in the relegation spot with 3 games to go.
If Redbacks win one of those games then it’ll be the Beavers who will return back to Div 3, on the basis of the 2 teams’ head-to-head record.
At the other end of the table Tigers (5&3) and Brewers (5&3) are neck and neck but, after this past Thursday’s game between the two, it is the Tigers that have the slight edge on the head-to-head record after the Brewers, who were probably pre-game favourites, suffered from a couple of last minute drop outs on the day and ended up playing with only 8 players, subsequently losing 23-4.
Both teams still have a 1st division opponent to play, with Tigers also playing Redbacks (Div 2), and Brewers completing the league schedule against Rebels from Div 3.
Whilst there are still some final games to play, things are already decided in Div 1 with the Pyros (9-0) taking the summer league title with a game in hand, following up their Spring title, after Pyros Juniors (6&2) lost to Misfits this week.
Misfits (5&4) improved their chances of avoiding relegation with their win over Juniors, whilst Sheriffs were forced to forfeit against the Pyros on the same night, leaving them at 2&5 with three games to go. This leaves Sheriffs needing to win all three to have any chance of staying up.
Nationals Play-Off Games
With Pyros winning both Spring and Summer leagues they have already qualified for next year’s National Championships.For the other two divisions a play-off awaits between the winners of the Spring and Summer leagues for Div 2&3, with games already scheduled for ‘Play-Off Day’ on Sunday 17 September.
Misfits will take on the 2nd Division winners and Beavers await the 3rd Division Champions.