U9 NEC softball finish the season with a victory over Cheam
By Ben Abel
Runners up spot in the league secured with a convincing 58 run win.
On the final Saturday of the softball season we travelled to Cheam knowing a win would guarantee us 2nd place in the league behind unbeaten league winners Old Whitgiftians.
Captain for the day Freddie Scutt met up with the opposition captain on the wicket and was quite happy to lose the toss and be put into bat.
Openers Harry Ejje and Oliver Gilham combined well, with a riskless partnership of twenty three which included a six and two fours from top scorer Harry.
At the change of ends Cheam's best bowler was kept on for a third over to try and get a breakthrough which he did in style, at one point being on a hat-trick, before settling for just the three wickets in an over. All bowled at pace and with the ball swinging to make the challenge for our second pair all the greater. All credit to Henry McCall and Alex Newland for hanging in there and rebuilding over the last three overs of their partnership, which included a well hit boundary from Alex. 214-3 after 8 overs.
Freddie and William Blackborough were next in and facing some less hostile bowling both found the boundary, ran singles well and picked up the no balls and wides that came their way to post an unbeaten partnership of 36 as we moved onto a healthy 250-3 after 12 overs.
George Abel and Daniel Cawthorne moved us onto 274 - 4 with George cutting loose in the last over of the pair after watchful batting by both boys against accurate bowling in the first three overs.
Last pair Hugo De Vere Hunt and Jacob Green set out with a score of 300 on the horizon which they duly got to via a well run two off the last ball of the innings. Both boys found the fence with Jacob playing a particularly cultured sweep for four behind square. The boys posted an excellent total of 301-4 with some well disciplined batting, calling and running from all the boys.
After a quick drink (the lack of snacks was noted by our boys after the excellent provisions at home games all season) we were back out in the field under a blazing hot sun. We got through our overs in super quick time with the threat of an adult game starting at midday hanging over us. 20 overs bowled in an hour meant our spectators were only ushered away from their vantage point in the last over of the match.
Cheam never threatened our total with just thirty two runs scored off the bat compared to the seventy eight we managed.
Captaincy sat lightly on Freddie's shoulders as for the first time in the season he achieved that Holy Grail of not delivering a single wide or no ball in his two over spell. Mind you no wickets fell in the first 6 overs and Cheam were ahead of where we had been at the same stage (225-0 played 212-3).
Daniel Cawthorne came onto bowl the seventh over and after taking a couple of balls to get the radar set bowled the Cheam batsman with his third ball, whereupon he was surrounded by all his teammates wanting to join in the congratulations. As cricket commentators often say "one brings two" and sure enough, two balls later Daniel had another wicket. This one will live long in the memory and was undoubtedly the catch of the season greeted with a collective roar from all the assembled spectators. The Cheam batsman hit a full ball hard through the offside and it would no doubt have raced away for four but for Harry Ejje, fielding at silly mid off, flinging himself high to his right to come up with a stunning, one handed, full length diving catch.
Now well and truly rattled Cheam lost two more wickets in the eighth over. One clean bowled by Hugo and one a training ground move where Oliver Gilham suckered the batsmen into running a second bye by appearing to be deep in concentration removing a thorn from his shoe, only to pounce on the ball and hurl it into the wicket keeper for an easy run out.
The third pair weren't able to score any runs off the bat and had to rely on our supply of wides and no balls to keep the score ticking over. Only two more wickets were lost , one clean bowled by Alex in his second over and the other well caught by Hugo off the bowling of Henry. George finished wicketless (possibly for the first time this season?) but bowled two maidens as Cheam limped home on 243-7, fifty eight runs behind the Oxted total.
A great way to finish a successful season in the NEC softball league. Most of our opponents just fielded one softball team whereas we had to split our squad resources with the ESCL team playing at the same time. Hopefully this decision paid off in terms of giving a large squad as many games as possible over the season. Our overall record in the NEC softball league this season was Played 10, Won 7 and Lost 3.
Thanks to James Cawthorne for scoring and other parents for supporting and warming up the incoming batsmen.