The Herts Harriers knew that they are making good progress over the last few months, but they will feel even more satisfaction now that the improvements are being reflected on the scoreboard and in the league standings.
BBF U17 League: Leicester Blue Sox 0 Herts Harriers 15 (click to view box scores)
They started Saturday’s league action with a win against the Leicester Blue Sox. Brodie Caress pitched a complete game shutout allowing only 2 hits and striking out 8. The team from the Midlands was a little unfortunate to lose their starting pitcher in the early innings with a slight injury, but they recovered well in their second game of the day against Horsham. They are a young team which is making its league debut this season and feature many young players who will have several years in this age group to build a title-challenge.
Herts Harriers Manager, Cris Hiche, felt that the high score in the game versus the Blue Sox does not fully reflect the game “We won the game fairly quickly but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad side. One just needs to see how they turned it around against Horsham. I think for us the key was not to underestimate them and be patient at the plate. All our players did extremely well to follow and stick to our game plan and to be aggressive on the bases.”
BBF U17 League: Herts Harriers 5 Horsham Hornets 2 (click to view box scores)
The last game of the day matched Horsham against Herts. Both teams reached the playoff quarter-finals last season and both will be hoping to go further this year and end the dominance of the London Mets and the Cobham Cougars. The game featured 7 players from the Great Britain U19 and U16 National Teams (Horsham-3, Herts-4) and the GB Senior National Team Head Coach, Sam Dempster, was present, radar-gun in hand, to assess them and the other players from the three teams involved on the day.
GB U16 player, Tom Everex-Armstrong, was the starting pitcher for Herts but before he even stepped on the mound he contributed driving in Callum Vangundy with a single in the top of the first inning. Herts held that 1-0 lead for 2 and 2/3 innings with good pitching and defence. Horsham tied the game with 2 two-out hits by Whitton and Cox in the bottom of the third inning.
Herts regained the lead in the fourth inning on hits from Charlie Mayhew and Tom Jansson-Wright who went 2-for-2 with RBI in this game. Conner Brown came home to extended the lead in the fifth inning. Tom Everex-Armstrong kept going strong on the mound pitching very efficiently retiring Horsham with around 15 pitches per inning. He was substituted after 5 innings allowing only 2 runs and striking out 6. Jose Morillo came in to close the game with a 5-2 lead. He did it in style retiring the batters in order with 2 strikeouts and a groundball out.
“We played a fantastic game against a very difficult Horsham team. Their pitching was really good with their starter throwing 67mph and their reliever 72mph. However, our players showed we aren’t afraid of any pitcher and can manufacture some runs. The game was close but we managed to win it by playing a perfect game in every aspect. I’m very pleased with everybody’s performance and this should give us the confidence to dream big this year.” said Cris Hiche.
With only a few games played so far in the BBF U17 league it is too early to start analysing the standings, but Herts fans will enjoy being tied in first place at the moment.