Chichester Falcons Softball Club enjoyed more tournament success, coming away from the Diamond tournament with the cup runners-up trophy.
Led by tournament captain and pitcher Jason Mercer, the Falcons managed to beat down 14 other teams from all over the UK to the grand final.
After going down in their first game against Spartans, the Falcons dusted themselves down and responded with a thrilling one-run win against Solent Tomahawks, thanks to a last-innings three-run homer from Cary Chen.
This set up the Chichester team to decimate London Raiders 20-2 before heading into day two. The hit parade continued in the morning as the Falcons swept aside Brighton Beachcombers and Maidenhead Rascals to put them into the cup placings for the knockout section.
The quarter-finals saw the Falcons take on Manchester Tempest, who opted to play the long ball. David Morris and Ally Warr kept a tight outfield, allowing third baseman James Wheeler to punish Tempest by slamming the ball hard to right field and give Chichester a comfortable lead.
Lucy Morris was stellar at first base, flashing the leather to mop up with Bronte Harvey and help take the Falcons into the semi-final against the Pirates.
Another tidy defensive performance kept the Falcons flying as Stefan Panayotopoulos pounded his way around the diamond and Anne Rutherford made an important catch deep in right field to win the game.
Pitted against Nottingham Tigers in the final, the Falcons tired somewhat and couldn’t find a way to get ahead of the game.
Shortstop Ben Sawkins ably dealt with grounders hit to left but the Tigers found the gaps well and steadily got ahead in the middle innings.
A late rally nearly turned the tables, with catcher Keaton Irvine slugging past second base but it was not enough to catch the Tigers who were ten runs up going in to the ninth.
The Falcons happily picked up their runners-up trophy at the end of a long weekend.
Chichester Falcons edged further up the league with a hard-earned win over Solent Sluggers. Junior Jenny Horton stepped in for her debut as catcher in the sunshine at Southsea.
Sluggers took the lead early on by living up to their name – an early innings hit saw the ball leave the park altogether – but the Falcons nibbled away with home runs from David Morris and Peter Martin. Stefan Panayotopoulos was his usual acrobatic self in centre field, snatching some remarkable deep catches.
As neither team managed to surge ahead too far, the game saw a few nervy moments in the field with the Sluggers dropping a few routine catches and the Falcons throwing the ball loose on occasions, but both teams continued to hit well.
MVP Lucy Morris repeatedly slogged into shallow centre and Ally Warr found her form on her third at-bat to reach base and knock in Bronte Harvey, keeping Chichester just behind the tiring Sluggers.
The score had never been more than three runs apart, but the Falcons blew it open in the ninth. Jason Mercer whacked a two RBI double to tie the game, Peter Martin homered the go-ahead run and James Wheeler, hitting five for five on the night, reached second base hustling out on a close play.
Up stepped Hettie McNeil with a pivotal punch to centre field, bringing in Wheeler to put the Falcons three runs ahead with the Sluggers still to bat.
Mercer struck out the first batter and retired the next with an outfield catch, but the Sluggers pulled one run back and with one runner on, the Sluggers’ big hitter stepped into the box and hit deep to right field. The ball landed just foul, much to the relief of the Chichester side.
Sensing trouble, the Falcons outfield made a small positional adjustment for the next pitch, which seemed to rattle the batter who tried to steer a line drive down the middle.
Shortstop David Morris made quick work of it, stretching to his left to grab the ball and flip it to Bronte Harvey on second base to win it 15-13.
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