UPDATE: After this article was posted the Essex Arrows (NBL) made a last minute HSL entry to make it 17 teams in total.
Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that 16 teams have entered this year’s Herts Spring League (HSL). The teams come from all British baseball leagues including the National Baseball League (NBL), Triple-A, Double-A, Single-A, Under-19 and Under-17 Leagues.
The HSL teams will be divided into three divisions based on their league ranking going into the 2013 season.
HSL – MAJORS
The reigning NBL Champions, the Harlow Nationals (20-6 in 2012), go into the competition as the top seed. They will make their first appearance at Grovehill Ballpark since they lifted the NBL trophy last September. Before that they will be involved in an intriguing match-up versus the best team in the North, the Liverpool Trojans. This game is part of the Leicester Spring League. The second seed in the HSL Majors are last year’s NBL runners-up, the Herts Falcons (17-6) who have once again been in the news signing new players ahead of the new season. The London Mets (13-10) go into the HSL as the third seed, but judging by the noises coming out of Finsbury Park, they will be a major player in the race for the title. Entering the HSL for the first time are the South London Pirates (2-21), formerly the Croydon Pirates. The team goes into the season with a new name and the hope of a return to winning ways. The BBF announced the promotion of the Essex Redbacks (16-10) from AAA to the NBL this year and they go into the HSL as the fifth seed. These Spring League games will give fans an indication of what they can expect from the Redbacks in their NBL debut season. Completing the HSL Majors lineup are the London Mets U20 team, which is expected to feature players who are fighting for a place in the Mets NBL Opening Day roster.
HSL – AAA
The Cambridge Royals (15-11) were one of the pleasant surprises of 2012 when they made their debut in the AAA league, and reached the postseason. On top of that they took the eventual AAA champions, Liverpool, right down to the wire losing 3-2 in the Semi-Final which was arguably one of the most nail-biting games of the season. They are the number one seed in the HSL AAA division. The Milton Keynes Bucks finished second in the AA league last season losing to Nottingham making it very clear that the Midlands conference is now too good for their AA opponents in the South and North. The BBF League lineup has not been announced yet, but rumours around the leagues are that the success of the Midlands teams will prompt the BBF to promote them into the AAA league tier this year. On that basis the MK Bucks’ (9-5) ranking as the second seed in the HSL AAA division is fully justified. The Herts Hawks (11-4) are the third seed after their successful run to reach the AA playoffs going out in the Semi-Finals. The London Mammoths (11-5) finished just half a game behind the Hawks last season. The HSL will give us a glimpse at what we can expect in the race for the 2013 AA playoffs. The final team in the HSL AAA division is the London Mets U16 team. They have been seeded last, but this is purely on the basis that they have not faced senior league teams. They could prove to be one of the big surprises within this group.
HSL – AA
The AA bracket is led by the Kent Mariners who had a 4-14 record in AA last year. They finished third in the same division of the HSL 12 months ago and they are the favourites to win it this year. The fifth London team in the HSL is the Marauders (8-2). They reached the Semi-Finals in last year’s Single-A League playoffs and are seeded second. The Herts Raptors (6-4) and Herts Eagles (5-5) are the third and fourth seed in this bracket. The 16th team in this year’s HSL is the Herts Harriers. This is the Herts Under-17 League team and this is their debut year in the HSL.
To view the full HSL lineup, click here.
SCHEDULE AND FORMAT
The HSL will be played over three weeks commencing on the weekend of 23 and 24 March and ending on 6 and 7 April. The HSL format and games schedule are expected to be announced in the next few days and hertsbaseball.com will bring this and all other HSL news as they happen.
WEAR THE HERTS BASEBALL JERSEY IN 2013
Herts Baseball Club welcomes youth players from 6 to 16 and adult players from 14 to 50+ from complete beginners to experienced ballpalyers. New players can join at any time of the year. For more details on how to give baseball a try contact us.