The East Midlands League is proving to be as competitive as ever and, having split into 2 divisions at the end of June, there are plenty of teams fighting for honours.
In the second division there are three teams in the hunt for the title, with Tigers and Misfits level on 15 points each but with Misfits having played one game more than Tigers. Tigers are also currently holding the advantage between the two sides, having won in the head-to-head game a few weeks ago, but are still to meet in the return fixture this Sunday (4 Sept).
In fact Tigers are sitting on just one loss of their six games played, but this came in the season opener against the Beavers, and it is the Beavers who lie in third place, just two points behind the joint leaders.
Just like Misfits, the Beavers have played seven games too, but also have a draw to their name to go with their two losses. In fact the Beavers may be feeling slightly aggrieved that their last two games have been cut short due to fading light, with one of these ending in an 8-8 tie against Pulse, and the other reverting to a 22-21 loss against Royals after 6 innings, despite having been ahead in the top of the seventh with no outs, when the umpire had no option but to call the game for safety reasons.
Behind these three teams lie Pulse, Royals and Rebels. For Royals and Rebels their chances for this season are, unfortunately, over in terms of a title challenge, but both are still playing for pride to avoid finishing bottom.
Pulse, however, are still in with an outside chance, albeit only a mathematical one, as they sit five points behind the leaders and with only six points left to play for. However, for a new side – operating as a second team under the Misfits umbrella, and comprising of seven new ‘development’ players from the fringes of the Misfits squad, aided by some of the Uni students who have stayed in Nottingham over the summer – they are doing extremely well. Their last two games are actually against the two joint leaders this Sunday (4 Sept) and, whilst they will be hoping for two wins to give them an outside chance of the title, they would also need Tigers and Misfits to tie their game between them too, and then lose their remaining games, for an unlikely three-way tie at the top. Throw in the Beavers’ results and it could even end on a four-way tie, but I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as to the odds of that happening.
The potential title deciding games in Division Two are in this week’s upcoming fixtures, with Beavers meeting the Misfits on Thursday 1 September and then, as mentioned above, Tigers meeting Misfits on Sunday, as well as Tigers and Misfits both playing Pulse on the Sunday too.
Qualifying for the first division were five teams; Sheriffs, Brewers, Pyros, Pyros Juniors and Redbacks.
The Redbacks actually came seventh in the first half of the season, pipping all three of the teams now battling for the second division title, by just one point. Normally seventh place would have seen them playing in the second division too, but with both University teams (Loughborough 5th & Nottingham 6th) dropping out of the second half of the season, Redbacks claimed the final place in the top division. However, they have struggled at this level, with their closest result being a 12-8 defeat by Pyros last week, although they will be hoping to improve on this and try to claim at least one victory from their last two games.
The big shock for this season sees the Brewers, who have traditionally battled for the title and always been in the top two, staring at a losing record for the first time ever, sitting on five losses and just two wins, with only one game to play, although two of these defeats have been due to forfeits when they haven’t been able to get a side out.
This just leaves the top three, with the newly crowned Platinum Co-Ed National Champions, Sheriffs, leading the way on 15 points. Just behind them lie Pyros (12 pts) and the Pyros Juniors (9 pts).
Interestingly though, all three teams have only one loss each and it is the disparity in games played that mean the difference in points on the board.
The Juniors beat the Sheriffs in a recent game that was shown on a highlights package on the local Notts TV channel. However, the Juniors then went on to lose to their parent club, Pyros, the following week, with club pride meaning the Pyros weren’t frightened of denting their young charges chances at a first league title, whilst also keeping their own alive.
So Juniors still have four games to play, Pyros three and Sheriffs just two and, whilst in theory all three have a chance, I’m sure that Sheriffs will be pleased to have the points already in the bag, rather than having more games to play. Just as with the second division, this next ten days or so will be pivotal in the race for the title and a place at next year’s Nationals, with Pyros meeting Sheriffs this Thursday (1 Sept), and then Juniors seeking to get revenge on the Pyros for their earlier defeat, the week after.
Just to finish the round-up of local East Midlands softball, the third Nottingham Single Sex event of 2016 takes place on 17th (Women’s) & 18th (Men’s) September. Both events are now full and, whilst the Women’s event is a stand alone competition again, the Men’s event is the final part of this year’s three tournament series, with Sheriffs & Pyros both in the running to take the overall honours for this year.