We're announcing National Champions from all over Europe
By Bob Fromer
Great softball, close games, perfect weather, exhilarating finals and a record number of “ladybombs” (over-the-fence home runs by women) were the hallmarks of the 2018 British Softball Federation NSL National Championships on the weekend of 1-2 September at Farnham Park.
Three separate competitions took place over the weekend:
- The Premier Nationals for the top eight NSL 1 or A-grade teams from this year’s NSL 1 league competition. The winner would be National Champion for 2018 and gain a place in the 2020 European Slowpitch Super Cup. Final Result: Pioneers 24, Chromies 20
- The NSL 2 Nationals for the top eight NSL 2 or B-grade teams from this year’s NSL 2 league competition. The winner would be NSL 2 National Champion, while the winner from NSL 2 league play would gain promotion to NSL 1 for 2019. As it turned out, the same team won both the Nationals and the league. Final Result: Manchester Mavericks 17, Bristol Bees 15
- The first-ever NSL 3 Nationals, for eight teams with aspirations to join the NSL structure. The two teams that made it to the NSL 3 Cup Final would both be given a place in NSL 2 league play in 2019.
Three games were webstreamed from Sunday’s playoffs: a brilliant NSL 1 Page Playoff pre-final with a twist in the tail, and then the NSL 2 and NSL 1 finals, both high-scoring back-and-forth affairs where the winner was in doubt until the end. All three games can be viewed on BSUK’s YouTube channel.
The outstanding impression from the weekend was how closely matched almost all the teams were at all three NSL levels, with just one or two exceptions.
There were 32 games over the weekend decided by three runs or fewer, and the league tables kept fluctuating throughout the round-robin phase of the tournament, which took up all of Saturday and the first half of Sunday.
The conclusion has to be that the NSL structure is working, providing good competition with incentives and opportunities for teams to improve and advance, and that’s why so many teams are now looking for the chance to join in. The BSF hopes to have an NSL 3 league structure in place by 2020, playing in tandem with NSL 1 and NSL 2, and will look at additional possibilities for mobility within the system.
Below are reports on the NSL 1 and NSL 2 finals.