Falcons out-slug Sluggers
Chichester Falcons Softball Club edged further up the league with a hard-earned win over Solent Sluggers on Wednesday. A minor squad reshuffle saw junior Jenny Horton step in for her debut as catcher, to play out a tough fixture in the sunshine at Southsea.
Sluggers took the lead early on by living up to their name – an early inning hit saw the ball leave the park altogether – but the Falcons nibbled away with home runs from David Morris and Peter Martin, as Stefan Panayotopoulos was his usual acrobatic self in centre field, snatching some remarkable deep catches much to the disbelief of the onlooking Portsmouth team.
As neither team managed to surge ahead too far, the game saw a few nervy moments in the field with the Sluggers dropping a few routine catches and the Falcons throwing the ball loose on occasion, but both teams continued to hit well. MVP Lucy Morris repeatedly slogged into shallow centre and Ally Warr found her form on her third at-bat to reach base and knock in Bronte Harvey, keeping Chichester just behind the tiring Sluggers.
Going into the late stages the score had never been more than 3 runs apart, but the Falcons blew it open in the ninth. Jason Mercer whacked a 2 RBI double to tie the game, Peter Martin homered the go-ahead run and James Wheeler, hitting 5 for 5 on the night, reached second base hustling out on a close play. Up stepped Hettie McNeil with a pivotal punch to centre field, bringing in Wheeler to put the Falcons three runs ahead with the Sluggers still to bat.
Mercer struck out the first batter and retired the next with an outfield catch, but the Sluggers pulled one run back and with one runner on, the Sluggers’ big hitter stepped into the box and hit deep to right field; the ball landed just foul, much to the relief of the Chichester side. Sensing trouble, the Falcons outfield made a small positional adjustment for the next pitch, which seemed to rattle the batter who tried to steer a line drive down the middle. Shortstop David Morris made quick work of it, stretching to his left to grab the ball and flip it to Bronte Harvey on second base to win the game 15-13.