With the East Midlands Softball League a good way through the first half of the season, the fight for places in the top division for teams seeking that all-important Platinum Nationals place is hotting up!
The Sheriffs of Nottingham are leading the way, having won all seven of their games so far, including a recent top-of-the-table clash with the previously undefeated Nottingham Brewers, last year’s league champions. As with all big games, there was pre-match trepidation and the expectation was that it would be a thrilling and exciting match, neck and neck to the last out. However, after a good start by both teams and home runs over the trees by Phil Kielthy (Brewers) and Shane Sharpe (Sheriffs), the Sheriffs ran out mercy rule winners in five innings by 22-6.
The top five teams will go through to Division 1 at the summer split, and there are currently only three points separating them. And three more teams have a chance of gaining a place in the top division if they continue their run of good performances in the last few games.
The Nottingham Redbacks were looking to end the first half with a fifth win against the Leicester Royals, who are only just behind them in the standings, but went down to a 21-10 loss, which also keeps the Royals in contention.
The second team looking to continue their run in the higher division is the Tigers, who pulled off a 14-13 win over the Rebels with a game-winning triple in the bottom of the seventh inning, after seeing a 9-1 lead disappear thanks to Shannon Henry’s MVP-winning pitching for the Rebels. Entering the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers needed three runs to win but managed to get them on a combination of hits and a bit of luck.
Our third contender is the Misfits. They still have four games left to play and lie only six points behind fifth-place Loughborough Softball and Baseball Club (new to the league this year), who have played all of their games. But the Misfits have some tough games left, having to play three out of the top four. Behind the pitching of Nigel Peters, they will need to overcome the big-hitting Sheriffs and both the Pyros and Pyros Juniors. But one win against these teams may be enough as their final game is against the team at the bottom of the table.
With the current 12 teams dropping to nine for the Summer Divisions due to universities finishing and teams disbanding for the break, we are having one of the closest first halves to the EMSL for years. So watch this space to find out how it pans out over the next few weeks!