Softball season sees Chichester Falcons soar to new heights

Charlie Thacker in Little League baseball action for the Falcons team
Charlie Thacker in Little League baseball action for the Falcons team

Chichester Falcons Softball Club ended their regular season on a high, coming away as Solent League division-two champions.

With a record of ten wins from 13, and having beaten all but one of the division-one teams, the Falcons pipped Southampton Spitfires to top spot by two points to take the title and promotion to division one for the 2019 season.

“The team have worked so hard all season at practice, and they should be proud of themselves for this long-awaited achievement,” said Falcons manager David Morris.

“They hit more runs than any other team in the entire league, let alone our division, and conceded fewer runs than everybody else too.

“We’re also seeing our older juniors now graduating into the seniors squad and setting a great standard. This is a pattern I’d like to continue and push even harder with next year.

“We’ll have to compete at a higher level more regularly in division one but we have nothing to fear and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The division-two final standings saw Chichester Falcons top the tree with ten wins from 13 games and a whopping points difference of 155, ahead of Southampton Spitfires, UPSU Shafters and Hursley Hurricanes.

To add to the success, two Falcons received prestigious trophies at the Solent League end-of-season awards ceremony.

Outfielder Hettie McNeil was presented with the division-two female MVP trophy for her consistent outstanding performance on the field – voted for by opposing captains and game umpires. Hettie has quickly become an essential part of the team having started softball as a rookie in 2017.

She plays with commitment and passion, continues to challenge herself, and has also made the leap to fastpitch softball during 2018 where she is hitting and fielding remarkably well already.

David Morris was inducted into the Solent League’s Hall of Fame for his services to softball and baseball, and proudly shares this year’s honoured position with Ed Wakeman from Southsea Sharks, who tragically lost his life in June.

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This year has seen huge growth in the younger age groups at the Falcons organisation, as the junior fastpitch team continues to flourish, as well as a new little league baseball club for seven to ten-year-olds which ran on Sunday mornings in Oaklands Park through the summer.

This proved very popular and saw some promising skills developing, with five youngsters from Chichester now attending the BSUK Baseball & Softball Academy in Slough, where they are working monthly with Britain’s top coaches and playing alongside national team players through the winter months.

The Falcons’ seniors’ section has also expanded to include a fast-pitch softball team, who after cutting their teeth at Chichester’s own fast-pitch tournament, headed to Paris in September to compete in the annual Tournoi de Fleur.

Up against teams from France, Belgium, Germany and Great Britain’s under-19s squad, the Falcons fast-pitch gang took third place over the weekend.

“The tournament was a lot of fun and good to play in Europe for a change,” said Morris. “But we came back with a much better result that we thought we would get. Now we have some basic experience with this format of softball, everybody is hungry and keen to do a lot more.”

The Falcons will keep working on their fast-pitch game, starting with regular indoor practice after Christmas.

The Falcons’ next priority is to form a second team to enter the league and tournaments. A rookie squad played out a few friendlies against local teams during 2018 but the plan is to formalise things somewhat and establish a full second team for the 2019 season.

A softball team needs five male and five female players, but the latter has fallen a little short so far. Any interested players (in particular women), of any ability, should contact the Falcons on chichesterfalcons@gmail.com or visit www.chichesterfalcons.com to find out more about playing softball.