The honeymoon period for the St. Helens Sabres is over, as they fell to the Southport Seagulls 18-17 in extra innings to give them their first defeat of the season. Even with the Sabres taking a three-run lead in the second extra inning, the Seagulls turned it around in dramatic fashion to take the win in the longest ever match in the Sefton Softball League.
As many people expected, it has been mixed bag of a season so far for a much changed Southport Seagulls side. But with captain Sophie Temple recruiting some top local talent, finding that consistent winning formula is the next step if the Seagulls are going to return to their glory days of 2014.
This week, they came up against a St. Helens Sabres team that is on the biggest roll they have ever had. Four straight wins to begin their 2017 campaign has surprised everyone. Lead by captain Jack Scholes, his team have shown real unity and are now quite a force that will be tough to beat.
It was a solid start for the Sabres, as they took an early 4-2 lead. But four runs in third inning saw the Seagulls keep up the pace to tie the game 7-7. A couple of home-runs by Scholes as well as base-hits by the bottom of their batting order put St. Helens back ahead 13-10 after five innings.
The sixth inning saw Southport respond with three unanswered runs. That saw them level the contest after the regulated seven innings. It is not often that a game in this league has gone to extra innings. But it is certainly not new territory for many of the players involved.
Nerves were at an all-time high for both sides. Another home-run by Scholes saw the Sabres take a one-run lead. The Seagulls responded well with one run of their own. However, a potential winning home-run ended up being called a double by the umpire due to the ball leaving the field of play.
That moment seemed to give the Seagulls some added determination. The second extra inning saw the Sabres begin well with three runs, including strong hits by pitcher Simon Ronksley and outfielder Jordan Colton. That gave the Seagulls the target of four runs to win the match.
That target was achieved by a hit from outfielder Lee Kendrick-Walker that brought in the necessary runs, and keeps their slim chances of a league title alive.
In the other league match, the Sefton Sharks made it two wins in as many weeks as they edged out victors 22-18 against the Formby Fins, who remain winless.
Eight runs in the opening inning saw the Sharks take an early commanding lead. But the Fins began the first of two fightbacks. Consistent base-hitting by pitcher Daniel Johansson and infielders Julie Lott and Mike Hulme saw Formby gradually close the gap to just two runs after four innings.
The fifth inning saw the Sharks respond perfectly with eight more runs, which included a home-run by teenager Sammy Godsal. At just 14-years-old, Godsal gave an important contribution that gave Sefton a lead that would never be caught.
Despite a second fightback by the Fins late on, the number of innings remaining were getting lesser and lesser. The Sharks secured the necessary outs to end up taking a four-run victory.
Next weeks the Crosby Vikings return to action. The league champions will be taking on a Sefton Sharks side that is look for a hat-trick of consecutive wins. With the Sabres now on the same record as the Vikings, a win could potentially give them sole control at the top of the league.
However, the Sabres will make sure to get back to winning ways as they take on the Fins who are now on a surprising four-game losing streak.
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 www.seftonsoftball.com, like the Facebook page by typing in Sefton Softball and follow them on Twitter @SeftonSoftball.