Falcons are in full flight for softball season

Dave Piesse in action for the fastpitchDave Piesse in action for the fastpitch
Dave Piesse in action for the fastpitch

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Chichester Falcons' rookie team continue to flourish as they prepare to start the Sussex & Surrey Softball Series in July.

The first team have had a shaky start in the Solent Softball League, losing to UPSU Shafters and Portsmouth Dodgers in their opening games, but got back on track with a good win over Baffins Brewers.

With the Falcons’ regular pitching staff unavailable, Ben Sawkins stepped up to pitch the game while rookies Anne Rutherford and Hettie McNeil both earned another start in right field and second base respectively.

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Two home runs from junior Oliver Howley and a grand slam from shortstop David Morris gave Chichester a comfortable cushion to field with, but the Falcons defence held up well, notably an athletic running catch from McNeil and a full-stretch tiptoe grab at first base by Lucy Morris to keep the bases clear.

The Brewers maintained good discipline at the plate and kept themselves moving but did not trouble the Falcons outfield enough, as the game ended 27-8 to Chichester.

Entering week four of the Great Britain Fastpitch League, the Falcons were still looking for their first win of the season.

Fastpitch softball is a more athletic and challenging flavour of the sport, where the ball is pitched in a windmill motion at speeds of up to 80mph. Runners can steal bases and advance on passed balls so the pace of the game makes things frantic and fun. The league games are played each Saturday at the purpose-built ballfields in Slough, with six men’s teams competing at a very high level of play.

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The Falcons immediately got ahead with a tight 4-3 win over Meteors Blue, as pitcher Matt Zelina worked hard on locating his fastball, leaving the Blues hitters to whiff and wave at the plate.

Next up were Meteors Red, who themselves had only one win to their name. With their new-found confidence, Chichester swept the London team aside with a 4-0 win, thanks to Peter Martin dashing across centre field to fish out several flyballs and Cary Chen’s pinpoint throws to first from third. After a short break the Falcons took on Tigers and just got ahead after the second inning. Unfortunately the rain took a hold and gave the teams a short breather, after which the Tigers turned on their bats and knocked five runs in the third to go way ahead.

However, the clock ran down as the Falcons stepped up to bat, before the innings could be completed.

Chichester collectively heaved a sigh of relief as the score was reverted to the end of the second where the Falcons were 7-6 ahead. The Falcons lifted themselves off the bottom of the table, sitting half a game above Meteors Red with two days of play remaining.

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The Falcons are expanding their junior section in 2017 by starting the city’s first teeball club. Teeball is a modified version of baseball for younger players, where the batter hits the ball off a tee instead of a pitched ball.

Enrolment is now open for the programme, which starts on July 1 and is for boys and girls aged seven to 10.

* Anyone who wants to find out more about the Falcons, to wants to try softball should email [email protected], or visit www.chichesterfalcons.com

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