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Meerkats Storm Ahead at the National League

Pictured: Tempest have a pre-game pep talk

Meerkats are storming ahead in the first weekend of the National Softball League. Seven Manchester teams travelled South to Farnham Park to compete across three divisions in the blazing sunshine.

“Camels were hugely impressive in their first NSL1 tournament after being promoted.”
Jonny Huck, Travelling Dodgers

In NSL1, Travelling Dodgers achieved 3 wins, 3 losses and a draw placing them safely in mid-table. Captain Jonny Huck gave praise to one of their opponents, Camels. “To be honest, Camels were hugely impressive in their first NSL1 tournament after being promoted. They certainly went toe to toe when we played them.”

Camels finished 9th with a 2-0-5 form. Co-captain Adam Hugill notes that the results mask the team’s efforts.

“We had a great first weekend at NSL1, the whole team came together to play some amazing softball over the weekend and everyone made key contributions. A final record of two wins and five losses doesn’t do the team justice and with a little more luck we could’ve easily had four or five wins on the board. Having kept the core of our team from last year it was great to see us stick to our game plans when it can be easy to get sucked into a fence hitting slug off. The team deserved to come away with some silverware which we earned with some good wins in the playoffs, lots to look forward to when we get back to it in June.”

Tempest chilling
Tempest chilling between games.

Tempest struggled with one win to six losses and are looking at relegation to NSL2 if they don’t pull their socks up. Their morale was boosted by their win against last year’s champions H2O. Captain Mark Griff said the division was, “Very much a large step up from last year but by all accounts the team is still positive and enjoyed the experience.”

Below in NSL2 Mavericks 2-0-5 form puts them at 9th.

Over in NSL3 Meerkats bulldozed the opposition winning six of their seven games. Heading into the weekend cup final they won their semi-final but lost the cup final 16-17 to Storm. This is despite some dramatic injuries including Alex Ingham, who slid head first into home. The catcher missed the throw and the ball hit him in the eye. He was not tagged out. Avery Chong impressively did the splits to reach for a wide ball at first base. April Hutchen made a tag a home but not without the runner sliding straight into her, leaving stud marks. Their captain Sonia Hine split open her knee falling over first base. She had to leave the field due to the blood rule and her team staunched the wound with mounds of toilet roll so that she could rejoin the game.

NSL team Tempest 2
2023 NSL team Tempest 2

New team Tempest 2 started well with a 3-1-3 form placing them a safe seventh. Despite an unfortunate injury* they beat our Sharks, Shafting and Bristol Bees. Co-captain Andrew Bogie gives his analysis of the weekend.

“The team showed strong character… capped by an excellent full-stretch catch on the run in the swirling right-field wind by Anissa Eghterafi from the tying-run batter.”
Andrew Bogie, Tempest 2

“Tempest 2’s first weekend of NSL3 action produced a range of emotions as the team battled back from a poor start and the early loss of a player through injury to end the weekend in a respectable mid-table position. The team started with an error-strewn display against a strong Storm team – understandable, considering it was the first time on the diamond together, with very little previous NSL experience to draw on. Tempest 2 also lost the second game to another top-half team, Southern Stormers, though the fielding was improving rapidly as rapport began to build in the field.”

“James Calow’s two home runs were the highlight of 20 runs in three innings.”
Andrew Bogie, Tempest 2

“The team was unfortunately hit with another blow, as its leading hitter, James Wright sustained a bad injury, prematurely ending his weekend. With an outfield lynchpin dispatched to A&E, the team were forced to abandon its plans for the weekend, but the reshuffled fielding lineup proved resilient with its best fielding performance of the weekend, defending a slender one-run lead in the bottom of the fourth inning to record its first win against Sharks. At this point, the bats warmed up, led in particular by George Swann; a full lineup game of base-hitting put 21 runs on the board against SPAM. Unfortunately for Tempest, the London team was similarly hot, levelling up the game with No New Innings long since called. The opening day finished with another display of big hitting, James Calow’s two home runs were the highlight of 20 runs in three innings, as Tempest 2 ended the day with its only real comfortable victory of the weekend over Shafting.”

“Day 2 opened with a chastening defeat to Meerkats, who looked very good for their position at the head of the NSL3 table. The fielding waned after a strong start, but Tempest 2’s stone-cold bats were the biggest headache to take into the final league game against Bristol Bees. The team showed strong character after falling behind in the third and fourth inning to defend a two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth, capped by an excellent full-stretch catch on the run in the swirling right-field wind by Anissa Eghterafi from the tying-run batter. The weekend ended with a narrow defeat in another great game against SPAM, Tempest having come from behind to lead by one in the bottom of the fourth. Overall, it was a very pleasing weekend, with the team rising to the challenge collectively at various points, and giving itself plenty to build on over the next two meetings.

“Big shout out to Conor Battersby and Stephane Desbios for 2 over the fence homers.”
Stephen Shearer, Sharks

Meanwhile Sharks are in troubled waters having won two and lost five. They are currently clear of relegation but risk dropping out of the NSL altogether. Captain Stephen Shearer knows they need to fight to survive and gives special mention to Conor Battersby and Stephane Desbios for their exceptional home runs.

* Your author wants you all to enjoy softball in a safe manner and kindly reminds you that, when pitching in a batting cage, to ensure that you stand behind the safety net.