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Summer is coming!

The Sefton Softball League returned this week with their now annual May bank holiday pre-season tournament. It saw the Sefton Sharks and St. Helens Sabres come out the strongest. But with all teams looking very competitive, there were positive vibes coming from each league side.

Indoor winter training has seen a pretty successful recruitment of new blood into a league that is now into its fourth season of existence. With all five teams now with a healthy amount of squad members and a new playing venue in the form of Holy Family High School, there is potential for this league to be the most wide-open in its history.

The momentum is still with 2015 & 2016 champions Crosby Vikings. As well as winning Bronze at last year’s National Championships, there has been little change in Crosby’s squad. With another year’s experience under their belts, who knows how long captain Ray Bennett and his team can keep this streak up for.

Looking to go one-step better are last year’s runners-up, the Formby Fins. Despite looking favourites to record a first ever league title in 2016. An impressive second half of the season by Crosby meant a final day defeat and a missed opportunity for Formby. With redemption at the top of their agenda, captain Mike Hulme feels confident his team can achieve this. It is also worth mentioning that the Fins will be featuring at this year’s National Championships, as well as the Vikings.

It was a largely inconsistent 2016 for the Southport Seagulls. After an impressive debut in 2014, it has been difficult to replicate that success. Despite all that, an aggressive batting line-up had them a win away from possibly becoming two-time league champions last year.

Now under the new leadership of Sophie Temple, we could see a much different side than the one most remember that won the league’s inaugural season.

One team that has always seemed to have under-achieved, is the Sefton Sharks. With a lot of fire-power and experience within their squad, captain Stephen Shearer and his team have never quite conjured a season that saw them challenging for the league title. Could 2017 be their year? A strong first month of the season may suggest that.

The team that always seems to be regarded as the most fun to be part of, is the St. Helens Sabres. Seen as the loveable under-dogs, the Sabres showed a lot of potential last season by beating the Sharks in all of their fixtures and almost upsetting the Crosby Vikings. The team is now being captained by Great Britain developmental player Jack Scholes. With his talent shining more and more in the league each year, the 18 year-old short-stop will be looking to create a team that can cause a stir throughout the summer.

Next week sees the league season officially get underway. The featured match will most certainly be defending champions Crosby Vikings taking on the 2014 champions Southport Seagulls. The Seagulls took the win in the same fixture this time last year. If they can match those achievements again, this will certainly bring hope to rest of the league.

The other match-up sees the Sefton Sharks do battle with the St. Helens Sabres. With the Sabres beating the Sharks in all of their contests last season, revenge is certainly on Sefton’s minds.

The Sefton Softball League is always happy to welcome new players. With the birth of a sixth team being the league’s next ambition, now is the time to be a part of this ever-growing league. Come down to Holy Family High School in Thornton on Monday evenings at 7pm to give it a go and check out the matches. Also, don’t forget to check out the league website, like the Facebook page by typing in Sefton Softball and follow them on Twitter @SeftonSoftball.

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