The Travelling Dodgers were crowned winners of the Sefton Shield for the first time, after they defeated Sefton’s very own Crosby Vikings 18-11 in what was a highly competitive weekend.
The National Softball League side produced a near perfect display to end the Cinderella story of the Vikings, who managed to come through the group stages and then upset a strong ‘LeedsChester’ side in their semi-final.
With a new venue of Childwall Sports & Science Academy setting the stage this year, and the event being pushed forward to May instead of September, the Sefton Shield was giving itself a new look for 2017. A record 14 teams were involved this year, and with many teams having the ability of winning the title, a strong start was crucial.
Saturday began with a couple of shock results. Not only did the Crosby Vikings upset the always dangerous Manchester Meerkats 20-13, but the three-time champions Milton Keynes Seagulls fell 7-6 to the Dodgers. That set the tone for the rest of the opening day. LeedsChester came through day one with four wins out of four and already well in control of their group.
In the other group, the Dodgers were sitting pretty behind a surprising Manchester Tigers side with only one loss to their name. As for the defending champions, the MK Seagulls already suffered two losses.
Sunday saw the Vikings come through strong to join the Dodgers into Shield semi-finals. The Manchester Mavericks secured two wins and a vital draw against ‘LeedsChester’ to confirm the four sides progressing to the final four.
The semi-finals saw the Mavericks keep up with Dodgers for the majority of the contest. But the determination of the National League side gave the Dodgers a narrow 6-5 win. In the other semi-final, the Vikings produced their best performance to shock ‘LeedsChester’ 13-5. A combination of top batting and their fielding cancelling out any threat meant a re-match from the group stage was set.
In the final, both sides started well with the batting and it saw the Dodgers take an early 9-6 lead. But despite the Vikings battling hard, the quality of the Dodgers came through the longer the match went on. Despite a late fightback by the Crosby side, the Dodgers came out winners by seven runs.
The Plate competition saw the Meerkats take the victory in their thrilling 14-13 victory over the Tigers. After an impressive 20-5 semi-final win against the Formby Fins, the Meerkats ended with week with some well-deserved silverware.
It was not a memorable title defence for the Milton Keynes Seagulls. However, they managed to come through and win the Spoon final in a high-scoring affair against the Manchester Camels 33-26.
The fourth and last of the finals saw the bottom two sides battle for what many people thought was the most important final of the weekend, as the winner would get a case of beer. That honour went to the Manchester Fish, who defeated the St. Helens Sabres.
The Sefton Softball League is back in action and they are 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 www.seftonsoftball.com, like the Facebook page by typing in Sefton Softball and follow them on Twitter @SeftonSoftball.