It has been a bright start for the Sefton Sharks as they toppled 4-time defending champions Crosby Vikings in a dramatic final inning to win 22-20 and move to two wins without loss to begin the 2019 season of the newly re-branded Liverpool Softball League.
After what has been a busy summer for the league committee of re-locating to Childwall and re-branding the league, they have left the Sefton name and has been re-born into the Liverpool Softball League.
That as well as multiple changes to all of the team’s squads, now has one of the most unpredictable seasons this league has ever had.
One team that has had a few notable changes is 4-time and current league champions, the Crosby Vikings. After what was a near perfect 2018 season with only one loss to their name, it was time for a new era. With many players looking for a new challenge elsewhere and captain Ray Bennett now stepping down and giving long-serving Vikings infielder Chris Jones the reigns, the Vikings looked to be in somewhat of a transitional season. But with a good amount of their squad still remaining and new recruits showing early promise, there is still plenty of strength that can label them as title contenders once again.
Their opening contest saw them pitted against a Sefton Sharks side that had their best ever season in 2018 by finishing second.
The opening innings saw the Sharks come out strong with many of their batting line-up contributing with strong base-hits that were inflicting damage mainly in the Vikings right-field. An impressive first three innings saw Sefton jump out to an 11-6 lead.
After that, the Vikings came into their own, and played to their strengths nicely. A series of strong hits with the bat brought in a total of 14 runs between innings four and six. With the Sharks only managing to respond with 6 runs of their own, Crosby moved into 20-17 lead heading into the final inning.
But with the heart of the Sharks batting line-up coming up, the pressure was starting to show in the Vikings infield, who came close a couple of times to end the match victorious. But a dramatic grand-slam home-run by Sharks pitcher Michael Lott turned the match on its head, and suddenly the Sharks had a two-run lead with the league champions still to bat for one last time.
That pressure was meat and drink for the Sharks and they closed out the game in clinical fashion to take a scalp over the league’s top side.
On the neighbouring pitch, the Formby Fins recovered well after a promising start to topple the Southport Seagulls 24-23 in what was a tense last inning.
After a much improved 2018 season finishing third in the league, Formby produced an early 9-2 lead after two innings despite being billed as the underdogs.
The Southport Seagulls have gone through some changes over the winter. With the unfortunate demise of the St. Helens Sabres, the remaining players turned to the pink side. The pre-season tournament saw the Seagulls look in fine form with many big-hitters now part of their squad.
That firepower eventually arrived in the middle portion of the match, as Southport scored an astonishing eleven runs in the fifth inning to take a 19-17 lead after five innings. Many people would have expected the Seagulls to just keep increasing that lead. But the Fins had other ideas and re-took the lead by collecting a further six runs in the sixth inning. With only two runs in response by the Seagulls, it was Formby with a one-run lead going into the final inning.
All they had to do at the very least was match their opponents and they did just that by equalling Southport’s two runs by coming out winners 24-23.
Last week saw the 2019 season opener take place as the Sharks comfortably saw off the Southport Seagulls 31-21. Fourteen runs scored in the fourth inning alone by Sefton was the telling factor in a contest that the Sharks maintain their lead throughout. Despite a brave opening week showing by the Seagulls, including six runs scored in each of the third and final innings, it was a big come-down after comfortably winning the pre-season tournament on the May Bank Holiday.
Feel free to come down to the Childwall Sports & Science Academy on Queens Drive in Liverpool from 7pm and support. Also, don’t forget to check out the league website www.liverpoolsoftball.co.uk, like the Facebook page by typing in Liverpool Softball.
The Liverpool Softball League is always happy to welcome new players. With the league now re-located to Childwall Sports & Science Academy, now is the time to be a part of this ever-growing league. Before the matches, there will be rookie sessions on Monday evenings at 6pm. Feel free to give it a go and then check out or even take part in the matches from 7pm.