The biggest pre-season baseball tournament in Britain is back. Commencing on March 23, the Herts Spring League (HSL) will see 18 teams compete over the 3 weeks of the HSL. Organised by Herts Baseball Club, it is Britain’s very own version of MLB’s Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues currently under way in the US, and it signals that the season is just around the corner.
The 18 teams will be entered into three HSL tiers. The top teams in the country from the National Baseball League will play in the HSL Majors. The HSL-AAA is the second tier of the Herts Spring League. It will feature predominantly British AAA-League teams as well as an U16 team. The HSL-AA bracket consists of AA and A-League teams and one U17 team.
The organisers considered the possibility of a tournament format, but ultimately adopted a league format in the same way as the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in MLB. “The objective of the HSL is to enable the teams to prepare for the new season and we have noticed that teams are increasingly starting to approach the HSL in the same way as MLB teams approach the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues” said HSL Commissioner, Aspi Dimitrov. He added “we have taken this into account when formulating the schedule putting greater emphasis on the preferences and requirements of the teams over the format of the competition”.
The teams finishing on the top of their respective division will win the HSL. The “games-back” column in the standings will be critical, but undoubtedly some teams will end up with the same record and so it may go down to the number of runs conceded per game to break the tie.
34 games are scheduled to be played so every possible game slot at the two diamonds has been filled. The competition begins on March 23 with a clash between the London Mammoths and the Herts Ravens in the AAA bracket, and a AA clash between the Herts Eagles and the London Marauders. The Majors division commences 24 hours later.
The final day of each HSL division will see clashes between the top two seeds of each HSL division: Nationals vs Falcons, Royals vs Bucks and Marauders vs Mariners. Will those prove to be the games which will decide the HSL champions or will one of the lower-seeded teams upstage them?
The final day of the HSL coincides with the Opening Day in the National Baseball League as the Herts Falcons will face the South London Pirates so we are expecting a packed venue.
Click to view full 2013 HSL schedule
EXCITEMENT BUILDING UP
The Herts Spring League adds a competitive edge to Spring training. It’s the time for managers to work out their winning formula going into the BBF league season. It is an opportunity to evaluate existing and newly recruited players – which players will earn a spot in the pitching rotation and who will be batting where in the batting order? Who will make the first team and who will have to work their way up with the minor league teams? Not forgetting, it’s a chance to size up your rivals for the year ahead. It’s the first big challenge and the first big excitement of the baseball year. Don’t miss it.
GET IN THE GAME
For more details about the event or if you are interested to give baseball a try in this competition contact Herts Baseball Club.
The action will take place at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead. This will be the first time that HSL games are played since the £17,000 upgrade last season.