For the third time this season the Royals pulled off another dramatic last minute result. This time the unlucky recipients where the Chalfont Flames, who have every right to wonder how they didn’t come away from this game with three points.
With both teams sitting mid-table, Royals 5th Flames 6th at the start of the day, a win was essential to keep any hopes of a late title push alive for either team. That and the heat made for a nervy affair, batting was at a premium and the defences were definitely in a hurry to get off the field as quick as possible to try and stay cool.
It was Flames who took the early imitative scoring three runs in the first inning. An inning notable for two incidents. A Royals double-play executed with only 9 players as Heather Williams was off the field receiving treatment for injury sustained when she as hit on the ankle form a errant throw and a towering hit to left field by Flames Helen Brown. With that and the player advantage, Flames will think they should have made more of this opportunity, but they maintained a 1 run lead as the Royals failed to convert all the base runners in their first at bat.
Leaving runners stranded was the theme of the evening for the Royals who failed to score in 2 of the first 4 innings. During this time the Flames had extended their lead from 1 run to 3. Although in the backs of their mind must have been the knowledge that their first team lost a 13 run lead to the Royals two weeks ago and 3 was not a safe margin.
With four very hot innings in the book, the game moved into the business end. Flames scored two in the 5th to extend their lead to 5 runs, but the Royals top order responded with 3 to cut the lead going into the 6th to just 2 runs.
Neither team troubled the scorer in the 6th to set up the dramatic finale. 7th innings saw Flames add 2 to stretch their lead the biggest margin all night. Could the Royals respond. Dallas Huntley lead off with a ground ball to the Flames Shortstop, their throw was off mark to give the Royals a base runner. A Steve James double and a walk by Anna Lisney loaded the bases for Mark Carter. His single drove in two to halve the lead. Cyndi Appleton came to the plate as the tying run, she hit into a fielders choice to leave the Royals 1 down, 1 on and the winning run at the player. Alan Le Marquand, who’s two run home run had snatched victory from Chalfont Phoenix two weeks earlier, was next up. Could history repeat itself? This time no, a double put the tying run on third and winning run on second. Heather Williams now had the chance to win it. The tension was high and rose further as Heather flied out. 2 down, 2 on, 2 to win. It fell to Martin Bitmead, with the game on the line. Could this be any more dramatic? it could, Martin grounded to second, the game was the Flames for the taking, but the throw to 1st was wild and high. The two base award pushed the winning run on 2nd home and the most dramatic of games was over.
You have to have sympathy for the Flames and their second baseman. They lead the game right up to the last batter and one error was all it took. If that error had happened at anytime prior to that point the games was the Flames, but fate is cruel sometimes.
The result will be recorded as 11-10, but Softball was the winner. This was a great Division 1 clash, this is what Softball is all about, close games, played competitively and in great spirit. There were of course great individual performances, Julia Barlow making 8 outs at first for the Royals, James Rice leading off the Flames batting, Martin Bitmead will not forget his final contribution nor Helen Brown’s drive that sailed over his head. All four players won their respective teams MVP awards.
The results in other games did nothing for either teams league position, Royals stay 5th and Flames 6th. Both are now looking to end the season in the highest position possible.