Match Reports

These are reports from various games that we have played in the Windsor and Maidenhead District Mixed Softball League.

Each team has it's own way of choosing who writes the match report for a specific game. The Phoenix for example ask the game's donkey to write the report.

26 July 2011 - Rhythm 5-19 Chalfont Phoenix

Chalfont Phoenix guaranteed themselves a third place finish in the Windsor and Maidenhead Softball League with a workmanlike 19-5 win in Maidenhead away against basement team Rhythm.

Chalfont jumped out to open up a 4-0 lead in the first innings. David Crossman made Rhythm pay for intentionally walking Chalfont's best batter Chris Yoxall by hitting a fantastic home run down the right field line for a three run homer. Rhythm on the other hand struggled with the bat going three up thee down with pitcher Phil Masters and first base Steph McKean combining for two outs.

The game continued to follow the same pattern deep into the game, Chalfont adding a couple of runs per innings and Rhythm struggling to put any sort of offense together. With the bat David Crossman claimed another two RBI's when he hit a line drive to right field to score Yoxall and Sarah Wood. In the field third base Sarah Wood made a lovely pickup and throw to Crossman at second for a put out and Neil Turner took a nice catch deep in left field.

Leading 10-3 going into the fifth innings, the Chalfont batters stepped up their game. James Rowe hit through short stop to reach base and was brought home when Masters tripled deep into centre left field. Masters was brought home for the run on the very next play when Angela Tedman hit safely to second base. Clare Winter hit a line drive straight up the middle to advance Turner from first to third who then continued on to cause indecision in the infield which resulted in Winter sneaking to second while he came home for the run. Yoxall doubled to bring home Winter before Wood stepped up to hit long into left field for a home run with the help of an outfield error. By the time Rhtyhms short stop had committed an error to allow Lester Deeble to come home on a single from Helen Brown, Chalfont had racked up 7 runs and effectively put the game out of Rhythm's reach.

Rhythm had no answer to Chalfont's dominance in the field. Yoxall took a fantastic catch leaping high into the air to catch the ball high above his head and outs followed from all over the pitch with catcher Brown, third base Wood, left fielder Turner, first base McKean and pitcher Masters all making outs.

The game ended with Chalfont taking an easy win 19-5. Chalfont now have one game remaining at home against Honeyz Homers next week.

MVP: Davey - right field (HR) hitting
Donkey: James - Gammy knee, lack of strides, non-swinging K and pant flashing

(Author: Neil Turner)

12 July 2011 - Ascot Blue Sox 11-20 Chalfont Phoenix

Chalfont Phoenix travelled to Jocks Lane in Bracknell to take on the Ascot Blue Sox on Tuesday evening. Chalfont, looking to make a return to form having lost and drawn their two most recent games, knew they would have to play well to win against the Blue Sox who were on a two game winning streak.

Chalfont started quickly to pile on the runs in the first innings. Lead-off batter Neil Turner hit a home run into left field to start the team off. Chris Yoxall then brought Clare Winter home with a hard line drive triple down the left field line. Successive hits by David Crossman, Helen Brown, Phil Masters and Steph McKean kept the scoreboard ticking up and by the time Ascot had taken the third out to close the innings Chalfont had notched up seven runs.

Ascot needed to score well to keep pace with Chalfont otherwise it looked as if the game could quickly run away from them. Good work getting base hits by some of the opening batters was undone however when Lester Deeble at centre right and Turner at left field took one and two catches respectively to end their innings prematurely after only two runs had been scored.

Ascot were not making things easy for themselves in the field and key errors allowed Chalfont to extend the lead in the second innings. Winter took advantage of a missed catch to reach third base and was brought home by a huge home run by Yoxall. Sarah Wood then singled into left field before Crossman was dropped in right centre field. The mistake was punished with Wood and Crossman both making it home before the ball could be returned home.

Everything seemed to be going Chalfont's way. Chalfont shut out Ascot in the second innings with Yoxall making a great pickup and throw to take an out at first. They then scored another four runs through Deeble, Angela Tedman, Turner and Yoxall in the third. Great defence held Ascot to only one run in their third inning with Wood taking and amazing catch over her head whilst running backwards and Helen Brown making a tag at home following a good relay by second base Crossman.

At 15-3 Chalfont were cruising and the game meandered towards the inevitable victory. Ascot needed a big innings to get themselves back in the game but any time they showed a threat of doing so Chalfont seemed to be able to pull a big play out of the bag to snuff it out. In the fifth innings a low sliding catch by Turner and a good take by Allen at third base ended a three run rally and in the seventh a good catch by Winter at centre left and a diving catch from Turner ended another three run innings.

This comfortable 20-11 win for Chalfont means that third place in the league is almost secure with only two games left of the season. No game next week means the team can spend some time on batting practice ahead of a trip to Maidenhead to play the bottom of the league team, Rhythm.

MVP: Neil Turner - Excellent fielding and HR to start the game
Donkey: Clare Winter - Slipping/"Stealing" 2nd base

(Author: Neil Turner)

05 July 2011 - Chalfont Phoenix 13-13 Richings Park Eagles

Chalfont Phoenix hosted the Richings Park Eagles at Gold Hill Common on Tuesday evening looking to return to form following a heavy defeat away to the Windsor Knights last week. The teams met in the opening week of the season, a game that saw Richings Park come from behind to snatch a draw when a Chalfont win seemed certain.

Chalfont opened the game by giving the Eagles two gifts, a walk of their leading batter and then an error by short stop Chris Yoxall allowed the next to reach second base on an over throw. The Eagles took their chance and hit a hard line drive over Yoxall that skidded on the wet outfield for a two run triple. By the time Yoxall combined with second base David Crossman for the third out the Eagles had racked up six and Chalfont were already rooing missed opportunities.

Last week’s game saw Chalfont get out too many times to fly balls, so Chalfont needed a quick hard start keeping the ball on the ground. Lead-off batter Neil Turner hit a into right centre field for a double, but he was only advanced when Clare Winter and Yoxall were out one after another on fly balls. Turner scored when Sarah Wood hit into left field but the innings ground to a halt when Crossman flew out in right field. It already seemed it was going to be a long way back for Chalfont

Richings Park had an 8-4 lead by the mid-way point of the game. Chalfont hadn't really got going with the bats and were struggling to take simple outs when opportunities arose, Yoxall particularly was having trouble making even the easiest outs throwing to first base. The bottom of the fourth saw Chalfont pull themselves back into the game. James Rowe turned a single into a triple when he caused a number of defensive mistakes and was then brought home by Steph McKean. Phil Masters singled to advance McKean and she was scored by Tedman. Turner then took his third hit in as many at bats when he singled to right field and was scored, with Tedman, when Winter did the same with a triple. A four-run innings had pulled the score back to 8-8.

One run each was scored in the fifth, the Eagles through a huge home run over left centre field by Darrel Pitman and Chalfont through a triple from substitute Mike Cattermole to bring home Helen Brown. 9-9 and the heavens opened to make conditions difficult for both fielders and batters.

The Eagles opened the sixth as they did the first innings, capitalising on errors in the Chalfont field and scoring their first four batters. When Chalfont finally started making outs the damage had been done and a potentially game winning lead had been opened. Chalfont's response was short with only Tedman with a single and Turner with a home run into right field able to make any impression with the bat. At 11-13 down Chalfont needed a shut out to prevent the Eagles extending the lead in their last innings, and it was a shut out they got. Yoxall finally made an out a first base, then made a tag at second base for the second out and closed the innings with a catch.

After lead-off Wood had been caught in left field, Crossman hit a lovely line drive into centre field for a single and was brought home when Brown hit a double into left field. Brown, the potentially tying run was then advanced when she tagged up and slid into third base when Cattermole was caught by second base. But in the attempt to try and get Brown out the ball ran dead to bring her home to tie up the scores with one out remaining. However it wasn't to be a grandstand finish and instead the game ended 13-13 when McKean gave an easy catch to first base.

Chalfont can take heart from recovering from conceding six runs in the first innings, but again will come away from the game thinking they should have got more from the game. Next week gives Chalfont the opportunity to find some form with the bat and ball when they travel to play Ascot Blue Sox.

MVP - Neil Turner - Great all round game
Donkey - Phil Masters - Slipping over fielding a bunt, attempting a hobbling run down and stripping off in the pub.

(Author: Neil Turner)

21st June 2011 - BA Jets 5-8 Chalfont Phoenix

Chalfont Phoenix took at huge step towards securing a minimum of a top three finish in the league when they ground out an 8-5 win away at BA Jets on Tuesday evening. Conditions were testing with a strong blustery wind making pitching and outfield catching difficult.

Chalfont opened up with a great first innings. Lead-off hitter Neil Turner took advantage of the wind to homer into right field before Chris Yoxall doubled and Sarah Wood and James Rowe hit singles to bring home three runs. Stephanie McKean then loaded bases when she hit a cheeky ground ball to first base to bring up Lester Deeble. Deeble, making his season debut in the firs team, failed to advance the runners as he was drawn into hitting a high pitch on his third strike and the ball sailed off for a foul-out. As next batter Anglea Tedman hit straight to short stop for a catch it looked as if the innings would stall right there but a hobbling Phil Masters hit a lovely line drive to right field to bring home Wood and Rowe. With the run count on 5, Emma Allen hit into a fielder’s choice to allow BA to close the innings.

BA Jets answered with three runs of their own in the opening innings. A few defensive errors and good base hits to left and right centre field allowed the batters at the top of the order to advance before Chalfont started making outs when middle and lower order batters came to the plate. At 5-3 the game looked like it might be a high scoring one.

However as it turned out both teams struggled from then on to put an sort of scoring together. BA were shut out in four of the following six innings and Chalfont three. The game remained close throughout with neither team being capable of getting the ball onto the ground in the outfield and with only a few infield errors being committed both infields dominated. Yoxall at short stop had an excellent game, combining well with Rowe who was playing second base for the first time and McKean who had a solid game at first base, making some great catches and not letting any wayward throws past her. Wood had a shaky start on third base - she dropped a catch, had a few misfields and a couple of wayward throws towards first base - but recovered well and in the fifth inning took all three BA outs.

It is this sort of close low scoring game which Chalfont have failed to win in past seasons and the way an 8-5 win was ground out in testing conditions was a testament to how far the team as moved on this season. It now looks like a top three finish in the league is almost certain however the team will still be pushing hard as they are still very much in the hunt of the league title.

MVP: Woody - Great fielding at 3
Donkey: James - Missing an out at first, playing football with the ball, wearing short strides

(Author: Neil Turner)

8th June 2011 - Chalfont Firebirds 15 - Richings Park Hawks 10

Chalfont Firebirds hosted top of the league Richings Park Hawks at Gold Hill Common in what was glorious sunshine (with the odd shower) on Wednesday night after playing the majority of the Hawks team we faced Sunday morning in a quarter final for the Spoon at Diamond 2.

The Hawks started off at bat with luck on their side; their first batter getting on base after a bunt in front of home plate and the second batter taking a walk (which we'll give her seen as Louie had struck her out twice on Sunday). Louie then got his pitching mojo back by striking out their 3rd batter, the next batter put it in play but only for Gwyn at short-stop to field the ball and throw it to Barry at 3rd to get the 2nd out and pick off the lead runner. The pitcher Hawks had borrowed for the night from the league above base hit in to left field to score 2 runs for Hawks, they managed to score another before Gwyn took the final out when he fielded the ball and took 2nd base for himself. The Firebirds were quick to reply with both Gwyn and Catherine R dropping the ball just over the infield, Gwyn scoring from Catherines hit after some cheeky running, Don managed to get on base but only at the expense of Catherine being tagged at 2 and Liz got a 1 base hit. Louie stepped up to hit a huge 3 base hit which scored Don and Liz easily...the key word being "easily"... in no way did Liz need to get over excited and slide in to home...especially not about 6ft short of the plate...in fact it's almost a testament to how safe she was that she still had time to shuffle herself on to the plate without being tagged out, probably because the ball was still somewhere near 2nd base. With the donkey vote practically wrapped up the 'birds got back to fielding having evened the score.

Hawks 1st batter hit a 1 base hit, the 2nd batter up hit a low ball to 3rd base with Barry taking a great catch for the out, the catch was so good and low the runner on 1 had missed it and ran to 2nd base unaware they needed to tag up, Barry threw the ball to Catherine R who tagged him for the 2nd out. Hawks were back at the top of the order but Louie continued his fine form pitching as the batter struck out after watching an absolute peach fly over the plate. The 'birds were keen to get the runs going and Izzy stepped up to bat but after accidently hitting herself in the head with the bat (incidentally missing the ball) she had the giggles and a strike out followed. Danny hit a 1 base hit but pushed to get cheekily to 2nd...unfortunately he was tagged out by their 2nd base. Danni then got the ball in play despite having the pressure of being 2 down and we were back at top of the order and started a 2 down rally with Gwyn hitting a 3 base hit, Catherine, Don, Liz and Louie all hitting 1 base hits scoring 4 before the 3rd out came.

Firebirds continued the good run by playing some great defensive softball, keeping the ball infront of us and picking off the lead runner. Gwyn fielded and took another 2 outs by taking the bag and Don got the 3rd out with a catch in left-field. Unfortunately the Hawks were ready to play some good defensive softball themselves and shut us out in the bottom of the 3rd innings with Barry being caught in centre field after he hit a huge ball that unfortunately seemed to hang in the air with plenty of time for the fielder to get their glove under it. Izzy then suffered at the hands of the pitching again with another strike out, Danny hit another 1 base hit and Danni was unlucky to be caught out by 3rd base after hitting the ball in foul territory.

Hawks went in to the 4th innings needing to push for the runs and while they did base hit to try and knock the runners round it wasn't enough as the ball rarely got out of the infield. Catherine fielded and then took the first out at 2nd base, Louie got another strike out and while their top of the order male batter managed a 2 base hit, the next batter could only hit it back at Louie for an easy throw to Liz at 1 for the 3rd out. The 'birds got back to scoring with Gwyn aka "Mr Reliable" getting on base again Don getting on base but expense of Gwyn being out at 2nd and Liz made it on base for Louie to step up and hit a home-run in to centre-field to keep the runs ticking over...Liz even managed to stay on her feet while passing home-plate. Rosie then stepped up and hit what should have been a lovely 3 base line-drive in left-field, however Tom sent Rosie home when she reached 3rd base despite the already being back in the infield and she was tagged out while trying to get back to 3rd base for our final out.

With the end insight the Firebirds got a bit shaky and in an error stricken innings leaked 5 runs. Louie started the innings well, continuing to give Hawks' 3rd in the order batter a nightmare game when all he could manage is to hit it back to Louie who again made the easy throw to Liz at 1, 1 up/1 down, the next 2 batters managed to get on base and leave no force on 1, however Catherine R continued her fine form at 2nd base after fielding a ball for the throw at 1 to get our 2nd out, however Richings Park went on a 2 down rally of their own batting through their order before Gwyn took a great catch when Hawk's 3rd in the order batter hit a fly ball which looked to be dropping over Gwyn but somehow ended up in his glove. In reply the Firebirds could only manage 1 more run as Barry stepped up for a 3 base hit and Katherine L put the ball in play to get Barry home despite being out at 1 herself, some base hits followed but with the score now so close the Hawks played sensible softball and picked off the lead runner for 2 more outs.

After their best at bat so far the Hawks needed to turn their change in fortune into runs and try and take the lead for the first time in the game, however a fly-ball to Gwyn, a line-drive at Barry and another hit right back to Louie (something he said?!?!?) meant the 3 outs came quickly and the Hawks had failed to score any. The Firebird's then had another successful innings at bat, with Liz and Louie getting on base, Rosie could only hit it to the short-stop but after he fielded the ball too slowly was unable to tag Liz out running between 2 to 3, they took the out at 2nd base to get Louie out, but by this point Liz had turned 3 and was sent home sliding in to the plate to avoid the tag from the catcher... she even managed to reach the plate this time! Barry, Katherne L, Danny, Danni and Gwyn all managed to get on base before the final out came and the 'birds went in to the final innings with a 6 run cushion.

Hawks' first batter got on base only to be picked off when the next batter hit to Barry, an easy throw to Catherine meantt the 1st out came at 2nd base. Louie took his 3rd strike out of the game for the next out and before any more runs could be scored Catherine R took a catch at 2nd base to finish things for the mighty Firebirds!!!!!

All in all, a great game that sees us back at top of the table, after some great aggresive runs (possibly too aggressive *cough*Tom Hammill*cough*) and solid batting another well-deserved win.

Thanks again to Tom H, Woody and James for base coaching and everyone that came down to cheer!

MVP - Gwyn, solid at bat and fielding.

Donkey - Liz, the unnecessary slide in to home...that didn't make the plate, forgetting she was the next at bat...ermm there were many more reasons but i don't have all night!

(Author: Liz Williamson)

7th June 2011 - Chalfont Phoenix 33-8 Wildcats

Chalfont Phoenix hosted Maidenhead's Wildcats on Chalfont St Peter's Gold Hill Common in the return game of the error strewn match-up a couple of weeks ago that saw the teams tie 11-11.

Wildcats opened the game hitting multiple line drives to every part of the outfield. Helped by an overthrow to first base by short stop Chris Yoxall and a walk from pitcher Phil Masters the Wildcats moved runners around the bases to post five runs. Unlike in the previous meeting, Chalfont hit form with the bats right from the start. Neil Turner opened with a triple to right field to set the tone and was quickly followed by home runs from Yoxall and Dan Lovelace and a triple from Stephanie McKean. By the time Masters had been caught out deep in left field Chalfont had answered with five runs of their own and the game was most definitely on.

After scoring looked easy in the first innings, both teams tightened their grip to make runs harder to come by. Wildcats only highlight was a well hit three run homer that gave centre fielder Clare Winter no chance of the catch. Chalfont tried unsuccessfully to push hard round the bases, with James Rowe getting picked off with a tag when he tried to squeeze an extra base out of a ground ball from Turner.

When Chalfont came up to bat in the bottom of the third innings Wildcats led 8-5, and after Winter ground out and Yoxall being caught by a spectacular catch in left field things didn't look good for a come back. But Chalfont dug in and a double from David Crossman, a well hit single from Helen Brown and another home run from Lovelace allowed Chalfont to post up four quick runs to take a one run 9-8 lead.

Wildcats were quickly shut out to bring Chalfont back up to bat in what turned out to be the game winning innings. Chalfont suddenly found run scoring to be very easy indeed. Every batter that came to the plate seemed to be able to hit a safe line drive or to take advantage of many outfield errors that Wildcats committed in the field. Turner grabbed a double, Winter hit a great line drive up the middle, Lovelace doubled and McKean hit another triple into right field. By the time Masters was forced out at second base Chalfont had posted ten runs to lead 18-8.

Things didn't improve any for the Wildcats who looked beaten already. Their heads were down in the face of the prospect of having to dig themselves out of such a deep hole. So it wasn't surprising that they failed to score in the next inning. Second base Lovelace took a catch to take the first out and then Yoxall made a double play when he picked up a grounder, made the force out at second base before throwing to Brown to take the third out at first base.

The game was effectively lost and with no pressure on the batters, Chalfont piled on the runs. Yoxall, Sarah Wood and Crossman hit consecutive home runs with Yoxall's being one of the longest hits into left field Gold Hill Common has seen and every other player in the order played their part in getting on base to keep moving the runners round the bases to bring runs home. When the umpire called ball game Chalfont had hit home another 14 runs to make the score 33-8.

This win sees Chalfont preserve their third place spot in the league and keeps up their pressure on the Windsor Knights and Honyez Homers above them. Next week they have the week off before travelling to Heathrow to play the BA Jets.

MVP: Dan Lovelace - for his home runs
Donkey: Dan Lovelace - for busting his knee, sitting down in the batters box and still getting to 1.

(Author: Neil Turner)

1st June 2011 - Rattlesnakes 22-12 Chalfont Firebirds

The Firebirds played Rattlesnakes this week at the George Pitcher Memorial Ground in Burnham.
 
After a bitter first meeting, the Captains were quite nervous to meet the serpents once again but were confident in our team's ability, demonstrated over the last few weeks.
 
We started well, with Don opening with a home run! (We think you should bring the girlfriend every week!) and the next two batters all getting on base. Becky being tagged at three, Gwyn being caught on a fly ball and Dannii striking out, meant the innings ended with bases loaded after we had only scored two. Rattlesnakes returned with 4 runs scored but the team tactics at the beginning of the game had their Captain and best batter thrown when our outfield swapped the boys and girls around in anticipation of his strong hit to right field. The switch only got him to second base, result!
 
The second innings saw a repeat of the first; only two scored with it all coming crashing down around us with bases loaded. Rattlesnakes saw our heads drop and rubbed salt in the wound by scoring a further 7 runs. Debutant pitcher Louie knew the innings had to finish quickly, so took all three outs himself - strike out, after strike out, after strike out.
 
Batting into the third, Gwyn started us off with a walk, closely followed by Seb and 'the other Jones' batting their way to first base. A brilliant slide by Karen saw her safe at second base when the team were two down but the scoring was sadly ended when she was tagged out at three. Some cheeky base running had lifted spirits, and a catch from Don, a catch from Gwyn and an out from Louie and Liz gave us what we wanted - three up, three down!
 
The fourth innings needed to see the Firebirds score runs, we were trailing 11-5; it was all still to play for. But why was the batters box intimidating the Firebirds? The balls were flying high into the air, right into the fielder's gloves. However, we didn't let it get us down when walking out to field, another shut out from the mighty Firebirds - first out being made by Seb's 'moobs', second out from Louie to Catherine at two and Don making the third out from a catch at left field.
 
It was top of fifth and with none scored by the opposition for two innings, the Firebirds needed to take full advantage and get solid base hitting from the first to repeat. Dannii and Seb obliged, with Karen also taking a walk but Don was caught at centre right and Becky's line drive meant Seb was tagged at three. Catherine stepped up with the team two down, and hit straight to the pitcher who threw to first base. Rattlesnakes had pulled their socks up and started the batting again with a home run hit tight against the foul line in right field. This started a trend, and they ended their scoring turn with 6.
 
A team talk at the top of sixth was required, 'let's keep our heads, relax guys, do we need a team hug?' were obviously magic words uttered by the Captains as Barry started us off again with a beautiful home run hit over centre left's head. Or did he just not want that hug? Liz got to first base with ease, so did Gwyn but two fly balls that followed from Dannii and Karen saw our luck begin to change once again.
 
Bottom of the 6th innings, Rattlesnakes started their bat at the top of the order and all got on base. Barry soon rained on their parade by taking two catches at third base and new junior player Becky took her first outfield catch confidently at right field to finish us off.
 
We batted the seventh innings, but two caught fly balls and another strike out meant the blue called ball game and we had lost 22-12.
 
MVP was Becky for her outfield catch and Donkey was Don for various reasons, possibly the new Lester? Also, a big well done to Seb and Louie for batting 1000 and thank you to Karen for stepping up and playing for us at the last minute.
 
A top of the league clash next Wednesday has got the captains already sending out invitations to play and working out tactics, so make sure you're available to come along and support on Goldhill Common.
 
(Author: Emma-Louise Allen)

31st May 2011 - Chalfont Phoenix 22-11 Rhythm

Chalfont Phoenix returned to form on Tuesday when they recorded a comfortable 22-11 win at home against Rhythm, the team that is propping up Windsor and Maidenhead Softball League.

Rhythm opened the game by quickly putting three runs on the board through a combination of a number of hard hit ground balls, good base running and the odd fielding error from Chalfont. However Chalfont answered back immediately putting on four of their own. Neil Turner, Clare Winter and David Crossman all made base with well hit balls and were rewarded when the following batters advanced them for runs.

Chalfont piled the pressure on Rhythm in the second innings, first with the ball and then with the bat. Second base Lovelace took a catch for the first out, then combined with short stop Chris Yoxall to narrowly miss taking a second-to-first double play. Left field Turner had an easy catch for the third out to shut out Rhythm. With the bat Chalfont were workmanlike, James Rowe singled to right field before coming home on a sacrifice fly by Phil Masters, Sara Daughtrey singled and then Turner drew the walk on two down load up the bases. Yoxall then stepped up and launched a long fly ball into centre field to notch up a four run grand-slam home run to move Chalfont out to a 9-3 lead.

After holding Rhythm to three runs in the third innings, Chalfont stretched away with everyone contributing with the bat. Helen Brown and Angela Tedman made it on to base with ground balls down the left field line and Emma-Allen returned to form with the bat when she hit a great line drive to centre field to score Lovelace. Masters kept the score ticking when he tripled to centre field to bring home Rowe and Allen. When Yoxall hit hard into left field to bring home Daughtey and Turner, Chalfont had a commanding 16-6 lead.

With over half the game still to play Chalfont had done the hard work and put the game out of Rhythm's reach. They simply had to match Rhythm's scoring rate for the remainder of the game, and this week they did, looking solid in the field and being able to step it up with the bats when they needed to.

Chalfont Phoenix remain third in the league with this win and they are only two points from league leaders Honeyz Homers. They will be looking to avenge last weeks draw against the Wildcats when they host them in the return game next Tuesday evening.

MVP: Neil Turner and Sarah Wood
Donkey: Neil Turner - thinking he was so good that he didn't need a glove to field with

(Author: Neil Turner)

24th May 2011 - Wildcats 11-11 Chalfont Phoenix

Chalfont Phoenix travelled to the Wildcats of Maidenhead looking to extend their winning streak of three games. The game was immediately thrown into doubt as soon as the teams arrived the the Bray playing field when it was apparent that there had been a double booking and a cricket game was to take place on it. When the teams quickly dashed across the town to another location it was clear warm up was going to be short and it was going to be difficult to start of the game fully focussed.

And so it was Wildcats that made the better start. Chalfont managed only a single run to open the game, David Crossman made the only decent hit and the innings ended when both Sarah Wood and Phil Masters committed the cardinal sin of striking out by not swinging at the third strike. Chalfont's woes continued in the field as uncharacteristic errors littered the innings. By the time second base Crossman and pitcher Masters had taken catches for outs two and three, Chalfont had committed three errors on fly balls and the Wildcats had been gifted three runs.

Chalfont however upped their game and showed what they are capable of with the bat in the second innings. James Rowe tripled to score Helen Brown and was then brought home when Sara Daughtrey line drived the ball into right field. Dan Lovelace then had a nice hit into centre field for a single. Mike Cattermole, making his debut for the team then showed no nerves by hitting a lovely single to centre field to load up the bases. Emma-Louise Allen was next to the plate. Allen hit a fly ball to left field for the second out, but a wayward throw by the Wildcats fielder allowed Daughtrey and Lovelace to score and Cattermole to advance. Cattermole was brought home for his first run for the team when Turner made it to third base on a solid line drive to right field. When the third out was taken, Turner had been brought home by Winter and Chalfont led 7-3. The Wildcats were unable to add to their score when their innings was brought quickly to a close when second base Crossman made an excellent double play on a hard hit ground ball, tagging the runner running from first and then making the throw to first base Brown to also get the batter out.

It was slow going for both teams for the next three innings, neither team looking like they wanted to make the move that could ultimately win the game. Angela Tedman was having a great game in left centre field - she made two excellent stops on the ground and took a difficult catch on a high swirling fly ball. Pitcher Masters was having another fine game with the ball and striking out three batters and exerting pressure on numerous others by lobbing in strikes early in the count.

Standing at 8-5 to Chalfont going into the sixth innings, the game was set for a tight finish. Lovelace doubled into left field to score Daughtrey on one down and it looked as if Chalfont were in position to extend their lead further. However ground balls to third base and short stop from Tedman and Cattermole allowed Wildcats to pick off the lead runners and limit Chalfont to just the one run. Wildcats then looked to close the gap. Their lead-off batter hit a safe line drive to Turner in left field before Masters made another strike out, this fourth of the game. The next Wildcats batter singled to right field, advancing the runner to third base. However the runner tried his luck to reach home and caused short stop Lovelace to try and make the out with a throw to home. Allen made a great catch above her head but the runner had scored and in the meantime the batter had reached second base to release the force. A ground ball back at the pitcher could have led to a double play if the force had been kept on the previous play instead resulted in a single out at first base and the runner at second advancing to third. A well hit line drive to left field finally scored the runner to make the score to 9-5 to Chalfont when the innings ended on fly ball to Crossman who was now playing centre right.

Chalfont's final inning with the bat started well when Turner doubled again on a well hit drive to centre field and Winter singled to centre right on which Turner scored and as a result forced a throw that allowed Winter to move to second base. Crossman was unlucky next up when he hit a cracking drive down the right field line only for the first base fielder to stick out her glove in hope only for the ball to go right into it for the stop and out at first. Masters eventually brought Winter home for the run before the innings closed when Brown was picked off at third.

11-7 with only the Wildcats to bat. Chalfont had a few runs to play with and felt they could defend the lead. However a combination of well hit line drives, a fumble from Cattermole and second and confusion on who was covering third base when Wood was dragged off the base to field a ground ball allowed the Wildcats to load up the bases. The next Wildcats batter made Chalfont pay. A long fly ball was hit to centre left - it was difficult to judge and it fell agonisingly just over Winters glove and the grand slam was scored to tie the game. Outs two and three were quickly made on grounders to Cattermole and Masters and game ended with the scores level.

Chalfont failed to reach the heights of the last couple of weeks, struggling with the bat for periods of the game and committed one too many mistakes in the field and will come away from this game thinking this one was one win that got away from them. The team shouldn't beat itself up about the grand slam in the end as there were many other contributing factors that lead to the team not scoring enough or Wildcats scoring so many. Finally, there were positives in the game that Chalfont shouldn't lose sight of - Pitcher Masters was on top form and did well with the bat, Crossman batted solidly and had a great game in the field, Daughtrey batted well as did Turner, Tedman struggled with the bat but more than made up for it in the field and Cattermole made an impressive debut on the team. Next week the team can look to push on as they host the struggling Rhythm.

MVP: Davey Crossman (double play and batting)
Donkey: James Rowe (very short shorts)

(Author: Neil Turner)

18th May 2011 - Rhythm 3 9-20 Chalfont Firebirds

The mighty Firebirds travelled to Maidenhead this week to face Rhythm's 3rd team.
 
Don stepped up and started us off with a solid 2 base hit, and was later batted in by Lester Deeble hitting a great 3 base hit. Gwyn scored Lester and the first two runs were notched up. Rhythm followed scoring their first 3 batters and saw the Firebirds pull their socks up and get the next two batters out from a tag by Gwyn and Lester and Liz (a partnership lovingly nicknamed Lizter) working to get the out at first base. A strike out from Rhythm's 'Blade Runner' ended the first innings.
 
Co-captain Liz started the batting off in the second innings by taking a walk, and she and Barry were batted in by Don. Special mention for Liz's slide into second base, the first of two this game and perhaps ever I think?! New junior member Becky followed suit and with both her and Don on base, Flames Captain Deeble stepped up to hit a home run. The Firebirds failed to score after this and took to the field. The new Rhythm team only scored 1 in the next innings with Liz taking all the outs on first base from good throws in from Catherine Rowe and Lester Deeble.
 
Top of 3, with Liz back on first base, Barrie was caught out from a hit to centre left and debutant Katherine Lack got out at first base. However the 'birds were back to top of the order and Don and Becky didn't buckle under the pressure of the team being 2 down. Lester took a walk, amidst banter from Phoenix Captain Chris Yoxall shouting 'real men hit'! but it scored Don. Izzy Pitman then hit a cracking ball to right field so also scored Becky and Lester but after all her hard work, was picked off at 2nd base from Gwyn's hit. Great fielding and accurate throws from Mr Cool Gwyn Jones and Mr Calm Don Chester meant Rhythm could only score 1 run in return.
 
The fourth innings was upon us, had the Firebirds got too comfortable with an 11-5 lead? The spark was temporarily lost with a shut out from Rhythm, team Mum Catherine Rowe out at 1, new player Darren Monteiro caught by the short stop and Liz Williamson striking out. The Co-Captains subbed Don Chester for Harvey Waywell, and the innings closed with only two runs scored by Rhythm.
 
Chalfont's third team went into the fifth leading 8-11, Rhythm were close on our tails and the pressure was felt by all as we failed to score despite having Barrie, Katherine and Becky on base. Rhythm tried to take advantage of a disappointing bat for the Firebirds but heads didn't fall and the two teams began an out-on base-out-on base rally, started by Barrie catching a foul ball at 3rd base.
 
Top of the 6th, the score was tight but Izzy talk a walk to first base, and Gwyn closely followed. They were both batted in by Co-captain Williamson but the scoring was over too soon. Back out to field, two rather dramatic catches from Harvey didn't get Rhythm off to the best start but they soon loaded their bases up again, only to have Darren take another catch in left field preventing them from running home.
 
Going into the seventh, Firebirds were winning 13-9 so it was still all to play for but we were again the top of our batting order. Harvey Waywell unknowingly relaxed his team mates with comedy sliding into first and second base. A new penguin style, two footed with a face plant thrown in. Something to practise in training perhaps coaches?! The next 4 batters all got on base, Izzy batted in Don, Gwyn batted in Lester, Liz batted in Gwyn. Finally, a hit to right field cleaned up and gave Barry the home run he had deserved all game, which later in the bar won him this weeks MVP vote. With Katherine Lack hitting to the pitcher and getting out at first base, we had done all we could going out to the field. What a finish, Lester through to Liz to make the first out, Darren took another catch at left field, and Harvey and Catherine made the last out at 2nd base. The supporters let out a loud victorious roar from the sidelines.
 
Thank you to all the supporters, specifically Tom Hammil for base coaching third base all game, even if it did earn him the donkey vote after he accidently kept a ball in play for the opposition!
 
Another fantastic win for the new team, next week we'll rest and return in two weeks time all refreshed intent on defending that winning streak.
 
(Author: Emma-Louise Allen)

17th May 2011 - Chalfont Phoenix 19-3 Ascot Blue Sox

Fourth place Chalfont Phoenix hosted third place Ascot Blue Sox in a Windsor and Maidenhead Softball League match up on Tuesday night on Gold Hill Common. The teams entered the game with identical 2-1-1 records but Chalfont felt they started favourites having played the tougher series of opponents so far.

The tone of the game was quickly set in the first innings. Ascot struggled with the bat only managing to put up one run on the board. In the field their pitcher struggled to find line and length, walking four Chalfont batters and it certainly looked as if it was going to be one of those nights when Chalfont's Chris Yoxall hit a long catchable line drive to right centre field only for the Ascot fielder to slip and see the ball go over him into the bushes for a home run. Chalfont added a further run to close the innings with a 3-1 lead.

Ascot were breifly lifted in the top of the second innings by a well hit line drive from Ben Robinson that bisected Sarah Wood and James Rowe in centre field for a lone home run, but then they failed to get the ball out of the infield and David Crossman, Steph McKean and Yoxall quickly took victims to bring Chalfont back up to bat.

The bottom of the second innings was to be where the game was won for Chalfont. Neil Turner singled to score pitcher Phil Masters and was then advanced when McKean hit for two bases into right field bringing captain Yoxall to the plate. He hit a hard line drive down the left field line to bring them home and to put himself on second base. Wood walked and then Crossman hit a fly ball to centre field that should have been caught but instead brought home Yoxall and Wood and left Crossman safe on second base. When Helen Brown made base from a fielding error from Ascot's second base, Crossman had scored yet another Chalfont run to put the score at 9-2 with only one out. Further runs from Rowe, Emma Allen and Masters and base hits from Donna Manley, Turner and McKean brought Yoxall back to the plate with the bases loaded and an opportunity to add even more runs to the score. However Yoxall mis-hit to the Ascot short stop to put McKean out at second base and the innings was closed at 12-2.

There was no way back for Ascot. Chalfont were playing well in the field, limiting Ascot to singles when they did have base hits and taking outs when the opportunities came. Ascot were the opposite, struggling to come to terms with the hard uneven surface which caused fielding error after fielding error.

The last two outs of the sixth innings summed up the way the game had gone so far. With one out and a runner on first base, Ascot's Liam Canny hit an short fly ball to short stop Yoxall. Yoxall dropped what should have been a very routine catch, but quick thinking from Crossman and Masters resulted in an out being taken at second base before the ball was quickly relayed to Helen Brown at first base for another to get Canny out who had not left the batters box on the assumption that Yoxall would take the original catch.

The game closed when Yoxall hit a trademark home run into the bushes to bring home Turner and McKean. Four runs had been scored to leave Chalfont leading 19-3 and Ascot were put out of their misery by the "mercy" rule that requires the game end as soon as a team leads by 15 or more runs.

This was another great game for the Phoenix who have now won three games on the bounce. In the field they are playing well, scoring feely with the bat and taking chances in the field which is making it difficult for opposition batters to score. They next travel to Maidenhead to play the Wildcats.

James Rowe, Chalfont's 15 year old centre fielder, received some great news over the weekend. Having being asked to play with the Great Britain Under 19 team at the Diamond Series Tournament held over the weekend, he impressed sufficiently and has been asked to join the GB Under 19 squad who will be playing at the European Championships in the Czech Republic in July. This is a fantastic achievement by Rowe who has been playing softball for only one year.

(Author: Neil Turner)

10th May 2011 - Honeyz Homers 6-11 Chalfont Phoenix

Chalfont Phoenix caused the upset of the season so far when they travelled to Burnham to beat the Honeyz Homers who had won their opening three games in the Windsor and Maidenhead Softball League.

Both teams started the game tentatively, each getting runners on base but failing to progress as successive batters hit easily caught fly balls into the outfield. It was the top of the second innings where Chalfont made their move by taking advantage of some well hit ground balls to slowly progress runners around the diamond. By the time debutant Stephanie McKean was unluckily struck out three runs had been put on the board to leave the score standing at 4-1.

The Homers next three innings returned no runs at all when they failed to keep the ball on the ground with the bat. Neil Turner took three catches in the Chalfont outfield to add to two he'd earlier taken with David Crossman and Sarah Wood taking others. The only chance the Homers created in their fourth innings came when the bases were loaded as a result of Chalfont pitcher Phil Masters walking John Lehman on two outs, but a hit to Chris Yoxall by the next batter caused an easy out at second base and the chance was squandered.

It was this key time where Chalfont should have stretched away but a key change in the Homers fielding lineup when Great Britain short stop Steve Hazard entered the game meant that base hits became harder to come by. A long home run into left field by captain Yoxall resulted in Chalfont's only run in their third innings where Hazard had taken outs two and three. Hazard caught Rowie Beedell at the top of Chalfont's fourth innings, before James Rowe singled to centre field to reach base. After Dan Lovelace and Emma-Louise Allen had both walked, the normally dependable Turner stepped up with loaded bases where a nice little base hit to the outfield would have almost certainly scored two. However Turned buckled under the pressure and hit to short stop for what should have been an out but was left off when the Homers contrived to misfield giving Chalfont another chance. An RBI single from McKean loaded up the bases again for Yoxall and Chalfont had another great chance to score big, but for the second time in the innings a reliable batter failed to deliver and instead Yoxall was picked off by Hazard to close the innings. Chalfont led 7-1.

It was through innings five and six when the Homers finally got the ball on the ground with the bat and capitalised on a few errors that Chalfont made in the infield. Rowe playing second had one sneak under his glove to the outfield and Yoxall missed the opportunity to make an out at second base when he dropped the ball stretching to make a play from throw back from Crossman in the the outfield. Homers captain Craig Moran showed his experience by creating indecision in Helen Brown when he squeezed a play between third and home while another runner did the same between first and third - the indecision resulted in Moran coming home to score and the runner advancing to second base. By the time the sixth inning closed the Homers had added four runs and had cut Chalfont's lead to 8-5 and were within striking distance.

Chalfont could sense victory, knowing that a few more runs in their last innings and nothing silly in the field would result in their first ever win against the Homers. By the time Crossman and Wood had been walked to load up the bases with two outs, Dan Lovelace, Turner and Yoxall had all made it home to score runs. Surely this time, the third time in the game when Chalfont had loaded the bases, they were going to score big. Unfortuatly it was not to be, Masters hit a long fly ball that was picked off in left field and the innings closed with Chalfont leading 11-5 and the Homers had one final chance to recover. However it proved to be a challenge too far. Hazard hit very hard at pitcher Masters and the ball ricocheted towards Yoxall who showed quick reactions to get an out at two before throwing to Brown at first base to get the double play and the game ended when Moran struck out.

Chalfont deserved to notch up this fantastic win. They played well in the field with the infield keeping things tight and the outfield taking a large number of catches. Batting was good as well, plenty of solid base hits and walks at key times in the game created opportunities to score heavily with the only improvement required being in turning those opportunities into runs.

Chalfont host Ascot next week on Gold Hill Common in the first of a series of games in the coming weeks that see them play some of the teams towards the lower end of the table.

(Author: Neil Turner)

5th May 2011 - Richings Park Hawks 10-15 Chalfont Firebirds

After last weeks controversial game the Firebirds were keen to get back on track away at Richings Park against the Hawks! This weeks team was a bit of a change around with Gwyn and Seb debuting for the Firebirds and Sara coming in to pitch. This game went so much deeper than just softball rivalry, this was about Sara beating Stan Doney who was pitching for the Hawks; in reality house-mates, in the diamond sworn enemies!

The Firebirds stepped up to bat with Harvey starting us off with a 2 base hit. Sara went next and tried for a right-field hit which got caught out, Don stepped into the box and hit an absolute bullet... unfortunately in to the pitchers glove. We were 2 down and Harvey was still on 2nd base, unfortunately Stan got his pitching mojo on and Catherine struck out after trying to hit his curving balls, this meant we went out fielding with none scored. Hawks 1st 2 male batters were able to get on base, while their first 2 female batters were caught out by Don and Sara respectively. With 2 on base Stan stepped up and hit a home-run out to left-field past Gwyn. First innings Sara 0 - Stan 3.

The 2nd innings was much the same, we stepped up to bat and the outs came as Barrie also suffered at the hands of the pitching and struck out. Izzy hit it straight to the pitcher who made an easy throw to 1st base for our 2nd out and Gwyn was caught out by 2nd base, 3 up / 3 down and still no runs on the board. The fielding however was much more solid with Catherine fielding the first hit at 2nd base and throwing to Liz on 1st base for the 1st out. The next batter was caught out again by Don on 3. The next batter up hit a solid 2 base run, however as Sara began pitching to the next batter Woody (our coach for the night) pointed out to the Blue (she claims in jest) that the man on 2nd base didn't have his foot on the base; the Blue waited for Sara to pitch another ball before calling the man out for not tagging up, 3 outs, side away!

The 3rd innings however proved to be pivitol for the Firebirds and changed the game. Preston was our 1st batter up, however was caught out by the short-stop. Seb then got a 1 base hit, Liz benifitted from a short-stop error to get on base and Seb slid in to 2nd to secure his safety too. Now back up to top of the order, Harvey hit a 1 base hit to advance the runners and Seb was sent home by Tom Hammill who'd come along to help out, the catcher was ready waiting for him, however he slid into home plate and she dropped the ball, we had our first run on the board! With Harvey on 1 and Liz on 2, Sara stepped up and hit a home-run scoring us another 3 runs! The team then proceeded to base hit, which meant we always had bases loaded and just watched as people kept coming in. Our 2nd out didn't come until we'd batted through the order for Preston to unluckily strike-out, the base hits continued until Don also scored a home-run to clean up the bases. Catherine was the next batter up and hit to the Stan who raced her to 1st base and unfortunately won, side away but with 14 runs scored we were on a high! The good luck continued in to the fielding with us only letting them score 1 more run before we were back out to bat. Sara 14 - Stan 4.

Unfortunately for us the batting luck had gone (maybe we were tired from all the running?). Danny who had subbed in for Barrie was out at 1, Izzy then hit a great ball over 2nd base which meant she got safely on to 1, unfortunately Gwyn was then caught out by the pitcher and Preston's bad luck continued to follow her as she was also out at 1. The fielding continued to be strong with a catch in left-field for Gwyn, another out at 1st base and a great take from Harvey who fielded the ball and took it to 2nd base himself. This meant another quick innings however they did manage to get 2 more runs scored.

The fact they were slowly clocking up runs would have meant nothing if we had then been able to take our chances at bat, however we began to let them back in the game when in the 5th innings both Seb and Liz were out with identical plays, hit straight to the pitcher who then threw to 1 for 2 easy outs. At 2 down Harvey did a safe one base hit, however Sara stepped up and popped the ball up which meant an easy catch for the pitcher. We did however manage to then shut them out also giving us a bit of breathing room.

After shutting us out again in the 6th innings the Hawks knew time was running out and knew they had to start delivering at bat. They looked shaky to start when their first batter hit straight to Harvey who made an easy throw to Liz, out at 1. Firebirds were then the ones to look shaky when an error in the field meant their 2nd batter got all the way round. The next batter up wasn't so lucky, with Catherine fielding the ball comfortably she made the throw to 1 and we had our 2nd out. Their next 2 batters both base hit and de ja vu with 2 people on bases the next batter scored a home-run batting another 3 runs in. They then had 2 base-hits and luckily for us the dreaded curse of 2 people on base was over when instead of a home-run their next batter hit straight to Sara who was able to throw the ball to 1 for the 3rd out. Hawks had scored 4 more, and now the score wasn't quite so comfortable at 14 - 10.

The Firebirds went in to the 7th innings knowing that after being in front the whole game we had let the Hawks back in and with them crucially batting last we needed to score more runs. Gwyn stepped up and base hit, Preston (who had angered a previous knee injury earlier on in the game) could only hit to the short-stop who threw to 2nd base to pick off Gwyn as the lead runner. An identical play then happened when Seb did the same, Izzy who was running for Preston was picked off at 2nd base. Liz then hit a 1 base hit to safely advance Seb to 2nd base. Harvey then batted Seb in and we crucially added another run to our score. However Sara was then caught out on the fly by 2nd base and the score sat at 15-10.

Now the ‘Birds arguably fell in to a bit of luck last week when after taking a fairly heavy beating from the Rattlesnakes the score then didn't count, that luck is apprently very much still with us at the bottom of the 7th innings at Richings Park. The momentum was with the Hawks at this point, after the sloppy fielding of the 3rd innings they had shut us out almost everytime, meanwhile clocking up runs in almost every innings themselves and the Firebirds felt the pressure. The Hawks first batter up safely got himself on to 1st base, however when the 2nd batter hit a fly ball Harvey took a great catch at short-stop after the ball looked like it had beaten him. The runner on 1st base obviously thought it had beaten him has he ran to 2nd base without tagging up, Liz called for the ball and was able to field it with no pressure as the runner was still unaware of what he had done and was on his way to 3rd base. Firebirds in the bottom of the 7th innings had just made their first double play, 2 outs and the momentum was back with us. The next batter was top of the order but after some greating pitching from Sara struck out, we had shut them out and won with 5 runs as a cushion!

Great work from the mighty Firebirds once again with some great team efforts and support from the field! Thanks very much Woody who was team manager / coach for the day, James and Tom H for base-coaching and Hannah for cheering us on... in her own teenager way!

Team: Harvey, Sara, Don, Catherine, Barrie, Danny, Izzy, Gwyn, Preston, Seb & Liz.

MVP- Sara, great pitching and home-run.

Donkey - After a tie with Sara it was decided Liz, for thinking we were called "Richings Park", trying to throw the ball to the blue rather than Sara and in general being the "Lester Deeble" of Firebirds!

(Author: Liz Williamson)

3rd May 2011 - Chalfont Phoenix 16-15 BA Jets

Helen Brown turned from villain to heroine in a matter of minutes when she hit home Chalfont's winning run as the sun set on Gold Hill Common.

Chalfont Phoenix played host to BA Jets on Tuesday evening with both teams having had a mixed start to the season. Chalfont entered the game having lost a close game to the Windsor Knights last week and BA had won easily in a game against the Maidenhead based Rhythm after an opening day loss to the Knights.

BA started quickly with solid base hitting. Two home runs over Sara Daughtrey in left centre field brought home five runs to immediately put the pressure on Chalfont. Chalfont responded strongly with a series of base hits of their own and walks by David Crossman and Dan Lovelace resulted in three runs coming home before Sarah Wood was caught out on a fly ball to left field.

The game stayed tight through the second and third innings. BA only managed to add one run having being shut out in a three-up three-down third innings, with all three outs being made by Helen Brown on first base. Chalfont however managed to squeeze three runs from theirs, with Phil Masters and Chris Yoxall hitting doubles and Daughtrey a triple. The game was tied at 6-6 and needed one of the teams to make a decisive move to win the game.

Unfortunately it was BA that made the move, recapturing their ability to get batters on to base and then to steadily move them around the bases. The pressure exerted on Chalfont seemed to be telling with a couple of chances being missed, including Crossman at right centre field who missed taking a catch with his glove and instead accidentally kicking it away when it dropped at his feet. However, in softball games can turn on a key play, and when Daughtrey backed up a Yoxall mis-field to make an out with Sarah Wood at third base, Chalfont's luck changed. Crossman made a catch on a fly ball on the next play and then Yoxall and Lovelace combined to close the innings having limited BA to six runs when more were threatened.

Chalfont's reply with the bat was short. James Rowe made it on to base and was hit home on a home run from Neil Turner, uncharacteristically down the left field line rather than the right. After four innings the score stood at 8-12 to BA. Both teams then struggled with the bat, with BA drawing a blank in their next two innings - Yoxall and Brown combining for four outs and Rowe taking a good catch on a fly ball in left field.

So when Chalfont came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth innings they still trailed by 9 runs to 12. It was this innings that turned the game on it's head. Wood reached base courtesy of an error and was hit home by Masters who hit a huge home run into left field. This one hit lifted the spirits of the Chalfont team and the following batters seemed to feed from it's positive effect. Brown and Rowe both had solid base hits, Brown scoring and Rowe progressing to third base when Turner hit a double into centre field. Up stepped Yoxall who hit a hard line drive into left centre field, bringing home Rowe and Turner before an error meant that he came home also for a home run. As the innings closed Chalfont had taken the lead, 15-12 going into the last innings.

BA needed three or more in the last innings to make Chalfont bat again, but they started the innings as if they'd lost the game already. Chalfont quickly took two outs and only required one more for the win. However when pitcher Masters fielded a ground ball his potentially game winning throw to first base was mis-fielded by Brown and the ball ran away out of bounds to leave two BA runners on base. And it was the next play that rubbed salt into the wound by hitting a big home run into left field to bring the scores level.

Had Chalfont missed their opportunity to win the game? It didn't look good when Lovelace was out when he hit the ball back at the pitcher and Wood hit to short stop who picked off the lead runner for the second out. But Masters continued his good game with the bat, hit a double to move Wood, the potentially winning run, to third base, bringing Brown to the plate. At a time when it would have been easy to focus on the mis-field a couple of minutes previously, Brown hit the ball into right field to bring home Wood for the 16-15 game win.

Chalfont are have now won one, drawn one and lost one this season and could quite easily have won all three games to top the league. This win should put them in good stead for the coming weeks, which includes a visit to Burnham to take on the always tough Honeyz Homers next week.

(Author: Neil Turner)

27 April 2011 - Chalfont Firebirds -v- Rattlesnakes - Called for light

Chalfont Firebirds VS Rattlesnakes

The Firebirds first ever league match was played out at Gold Hill Common in what started as glorious sunshine against Rattlesnakes, a team which had only been running for a year. Firebirds fielded a relatively untested team, newbies Danny, Izzy, Barrie, Darren and Preston all playing their first competitive softball matches. Without knowing what we could do as a team we went into the game with only one thing on our minds; get the basics right and everything will fall into place.

Unfortunately for us, and in particular Sally who pitched for us for the first time Rattlesnakes had obviously been given the same advice, their first 2 batters were reluctant to swing at anything they didn't have to and subsequently walked when the strikes became hard to come by. Their captain stepped up as the 3rd batter, hit an absolute beast out to right field and cleaned up the bases with a home-run. The 4th batter stepped up and hit the ball right in to Catherine Rowe's glove just over 2nd base and we had our much needed first out. Unfortunately the walks kept coming and some sloppiness in the field when they did eventually bat meant we were chasing 13 runs from the first inning.

Tom stepped up to start us off batting, with a solid 1 base hit, Sally stepped up next and took the walk after Rattlesnakes' pitcher encountered the same problems she had, finding the strike zone while battling gale force winds. Harvey got on base but at the expense of Tom being out at 3rd, Mel stepped up and batted a solid 2 base hit, we got 2 runs on the score-sheet and with no force on maybe the tides were turning. With basics in mind, Danny and Catherine took walks, Barrie and Don had base hits, Don picking up 2 RBI's in the process and while we stood at 2 outs it was co-captain Liz Williamson who stopped the good run with the slightly embarrassing and certainly "basic error" of getting out with a non-swinging strike out.

Rattlesnakes continued to take the walks in the 2nd inning, however the pitching was getting stronger and they started to swing, causing their 2 strike outs and a catch by Harvey at short-stop. Unfortunately there were a lot of runs batted in between these outs with errors occurring again in the infield and there was a sense we kept missing our chances to take the game back. When we stepped up to bat again we just couldn't get it beyond the infield and were only able to get one more run in.

By the 3rd inning the sun had all but sunk, the wind had picked up and the Blues began murmurings of "losing the light". Rattlesnakes captain stepped up and swung at everything, aware they were running out of time he wanted the innings to be quick for them to secure their win, eventually being caught out by Barrie at catcher. However the rest of the Rattlesnakes team had missed the memo about speeding up, they were watching balls and strikes go by them, taking yet another walk. The inning did end with no runs scored after Don did a triple take at a catch in left-field and the final out came at 1st base. Our batting in the 3rd  innings also lacked any runs and before we knew it we were back out fielding again.

By the 4th inning the Blues were seriously considering the safety of how much light was left and made it clear we had maybe 10 minutes left, Rattlesnakes however continued their game plan, taking the walks, waiting for the strikes. They had once again batted through their order before all 3 outs were made and this had seriously eaten into the Blues "10 minutes left". The Firebirds stepped up to bat knowing that after this inning ball game would be called and they would have lost on mercy.

Perhaps it was the no pressure of knowing you're not going to win? Perhaps it was the nerves of Rattlesnakes taking their first victory of the season? or who knows maybe it really was the light!?! But Firebirds found their batting form in the 4th inning, with Barrie, Liz, Darren and Preston all base hitting (Darren batting Barrie in) and Tom recording his first grand slam home-run clearing the bases. Harvey had a 2 base hit, Mel went for a 1 base hit and we were only at 1 out, however "10 minutes" was up, the light had gone and we now faced the real prospect of having to play a 5th inning as Firebirds were almost out of the deficit needed to lose on "mercy".

The Blues had to make the controversial decision to call ball game and because we didn't complete 4 innings it meant the game has to be replayed and the score meant nothing. The Rattlesnakes, who had played a great game of softball all night were understandably annoyed but hopefully with more practise and experience the Firebirds can give them more of a game in the replay.

This was a fantastic effort for our first game out, with some solid hitting in both the 1st and 4th innings. The atmosphere was good, everyone had some good banter and the support from everyone that came to cheer us on meant our heads didn't fall when we went behind. So thank you to everyone that helped, coached, supported or played in what was a great first game for the mighty Firebirds!!!!!!

MVP - Tom Bayley - monster grand slam!

Donkey - Liz Williamson - monster strike out and general rubbish fielding!

Team: Tom B, Sally M-B, Harvey, Mel, Danny, Izzy, Don, Catherine, Barrie, Liz, Darren, Preston.

(Author: Liz Williamson)

26 April 2011 - Chalfont Phoenix 12-14 Windsor Knights

Chalfont Phoenix hosted last years league champions Windsor Knights on a cold but dry Tuesday evening on Gold Hill Common. Phoenix entered the game having tied their opening game of the softball season, the Knights had won a close one against BA Jets.

Windsor got off to a quick start, putting four runs on the board through some solid base-hitting - Chalfont mangaged only two runs in response. However Windsor started to make some basic errors and drew blanks in their next two innings. This was tipified when Neil Turner took a catch for Chalfont in left field and then threw the ball back to first base to get a second out on the play as the Windsor runner failed to tag-up. Chalfont took advantage in the second innings when their first four batters each made it on to base. Sarah Wood then stepped up and smashed the ball long over the Knights left fielder Martin Cartledge for a triple, bringing home two runs. It was the unfortunate Cartledge again that was hit over on the very next play when Chalfont pitcher Phil Masters put last weeks batting problems to rest by hitting a huge triple to bring in another run. Chalfont increased their lead to 8-4 in the third innings when captain Chris Yoxall hit a home run into centre right field.

Chalfont were now buoyant with Windsor seemingly struggling to get their game into gear. But no sooner had the Windsor started their fourth innings they were soon level. Solid hits meant Chalfont's infield could not turn double plays and had instead to settle for picking off lead runners leaving others on base. Windsor's Jon Daniels pulled a good line drive into right field to bat in two runs and Cox batted in another when she narrowly avoided being caught out long in centre left field. The Windsor innings was brought to an abrupt end when Yoxall made a double play to leave the score at 8-8.

Windsor extended their lead in the fifth innings when errors started creeping into Chalfonts game. Short stop Yoxall missed a couple of opportunities to make outs at first base throwing the ball low to make catching difficult for first baser Wood and third baser Emma-Louise Allen struggled to stop some hard hit line drives. When the innings drew to a close with Yoxall making a tag and then a throw to two to make a double play, Windsor had added six runs and were seemingly pushing away towards the win.

Not so though. Chalfont showed some great fighting spirit when Allen, Turner and Clare Winter all made made base on good line drives. With bases loaded Yoxall stepped up and hit a huge grand slam home run into the bushes in centre right field. Chalfont had hit back quickly and trailed by only two runs at 12-14.

As the light faded, both teams struggled to get any players on base and ultimately into scoring position and come the bottom of the seventh and final innings, Chalfont started needing only two runs to tie and three to win the game. Wood looked as if she had pulled out another great hit into left field but the ball dropped this time into the fielders glove. Masters stepped up and hit a fantastic line drive to centre field that took him to third base albeit with the help of an excellent slide to avoid the tag. Allen struck out to leave Chalfont with only one out remaining to bring Masters home and to score another to tie, and unfortunately it was an ask too much and the game closed out with Chalfont losing 12-14.

Chalfont have lots of positives to take from this game they could have won and only losing by two runs to a team such as the Knights bodes well for the coming season.

(Author: Neil Turner, click to see photos by Jon Smalldon)

19 April 2011- Richings Park Eagles 14-14 Chalfont Phoenix

Chalfont Phoenix opened their 2011 campaign in the Windsor and Maidenhead Softball League with a trip to Richings Park Eagles. The Phoenix included many faces from last season, but welcomed two debutants, Angela Tedman, Phil Masters (who has joined from the Eagles) and fifteen year old James Rowe.

Chalfont made an excellent start to the game, scoring each of the first five batters with doubles from Neil Turner, Chris Yoxall and Tedman. In the field, Chalfont continued to dominate only allowing the Eagles to score two runs in reply. The Phoenix looked to captialise at the top of the second innings, Helen Brown and Emma Allen made it on to base and were hit home to score by a home run from Turner. A further home run from Yoxall, through the same unfortunate Eagles outfielder meant Chalfont lead 10-2. Chalfont shut out the Eagles in the bottom of the third, with an uncharacterisic dropped catch from Great Britain player Yoxall not being penalised and a double play involving Sarah Wood and Dan Lovelace being the highlight.

Two defensive innings were to determine the outcome of the game and the bottom of the third was one. Richings Park piled on seven runs through solid base hitting and odd defensive infield errors from Chalfont including a miscommuncation between Yoxall and Lovelace that could have limited runs lost. Chalfont lead 10-9 after three innings.

Innings four and five saw both teams struggle with the bat, Richings Park failing to score and Chalfont scoring only two runs from hits from Turner, Clare Winter and Yoxall to extend their lead to 12-9 going into the sixth innings, an innings which would ultimately be the last due to the decreasing daylight.

David Crossman and Emma Allen led off the sixth innings with base hits. Turner stepped up and safely made base to score Crossman and Yoxall scored Allen before the innings drew to a close when Tedman ground out to third base. Chalfont led 14-9 with the Eagles left to bat out the game - surely they had the game in the bag? This innigs was to become the second of those two defensive innings.

Chalfont seemed to lose their cool under pressure and started to throw the ball around in the infield chasing outs. Before they knew it the Eagles had put three runs on the board and cut Chalfont's lead to 2. Pitcher Phil Masters picked up a ground ball made the first out at first base, however drops at first base from Wood and a further infield error and out left the Eagles 14-13 down, with two outs and the tying runner on third base. Unfortunately the next batter made a safe base hit to bring the runner home and the game ended in a 14-14 draw in the dying light when the Eagles catcher flew out to Turner in left field.

On reflection there are lots of positives that Chalfont can bring from this game, the batting performance from the top four batters in the order was particularly pleasing, however Chalfont's infield early season sharpness left much room for improvement - an area which they will to improve on quickly for the visit of 2010 league champions Windsor Knights next week.

(Author: Neil Turner)