Loughborough claims fourth straight National University Softball title

Tue 18 Oct 2016

Twelve softball teams came to Farnham Park on Saturday 15 October to contest the autumn edition of the 2016 National University Softball Championships.  After eight hours of fierce competition, Loughborough University Thunder claimed their fourth straight national title.

Weather conditions were near-perfect for most of the day, and the twelve teams, representing ten universities, were divided into three groups of four for initial round-robin play.


Group A

In Group A, the opening games saw the University of Salford edge past North West rivals the University of Manchester by 4-3, with the University of East Anglia enjoying a 12-3 win over the University of York. 

But this seemed to spur on the Yorkshire side, who bounced back to secure convincing wins against both Salford and Manchester in their remaining matches to finish as the best of the runner-up teams and thus qualify for the semi-finals.

The University of East Anglia progressed through Group A unbeaten to also qualify for the semi-finals.

Group standings were:

University of East Anglia (3-0)
University of York (2-1)
University of Salford (1-2)
University of Manchester (0-3)


Group B

Group B was also keenly contested, with the University of Portsmouth Shafters looking strong in their opening wins against the Loughborough University Swans and University of Nottingham 2.

Oxford Brookes University, making their first appearance at the Championship for two-and-a-half years, opened with an 11-2 win over Nottingham 2 and then tied with the Loughborough Swans at nine runs apiece.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth continued their good run of results, edging out Oxford Brookes by a single run to stay unbeaten and qualify for the semi-finals.  In the last game of the pool stages, the Loughborough Swans found their range and put across 26 runs against their East Midlands rivals Nottingham 2.

Group standings were:

University of Portsmouth (3-0)
Loughborough University Swans (1-1-1)
Oxford Brookes University (1-1-1)
University of Nottingham 2 (0-3)


Group C

Group C was the most closely-fought, with little to choose between the teams. The University of Southampton caused the upset of the day, defeating the reigning champions Loughborough University Thunder by 8-4.

Southampton had lost their opening game against the Manchester Metropolitan University Crewe Eagles, while the defeat to Southampton left the Thunder needing a comprehensive win in their last group match to have a chance of progressing.  But the Thunder rose to the challenge with a 16-0 demolition of the Eagles comfortably to secure first place in the group.

Earlier, Southampton and the University of Nottingham had played out a 10-10 draw.

Group standings were:

Loughborough University Thunder (2-1)
University of Nottingham 1 (1-1-1)
University of Southampton (1-1-1)
Manchester Metropolitan University Crewe (0-3)
 

Playoffs

In the first semi-final, the University of York team put on a powerful hitting display in a 16-8 win over the Portsmouth Shafters.

In the second semi-final, Loughborough Thunder also found their range, posting 14 runs against UEA while limiting the Blue Sox to only four runs in reply through excellent defense.

With rain clouds finally beginning to threaten, the final was played in slightly damp conditions.  Again, the Thunder looked sharp at the plate, scoring 16 runs to York’s four to take their fourth straight National University Softball Championship title.


Expansion

BaseballSoftballUK is looking to expand the number of universities with baseball and softball programmes this academic year.  Hit the Pitch, BSUK’s national participation programme, is well-placed to support universities to achieve this.

For further information, please visit http://www.hitthepitch.com/hit-the-pitch/higher-education or contact National Development Manager Chris Rawlings on 07875 569267 or at chris.rawlings@bsuk.com.

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