The biggest pre-season baseball competition in Britain is back. Commencing on March 18, the Herts Spring League (HSL) will see 16 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 16 teams will be entered into three HSL tiers. The top teams in the country from the National Baseball League and Triple-A Leagues will play in the HSL Majors. The HSL-AA is the second tier of the Herts Spring League. It will feature predominantly British Double-A League teams. The third tier is the HSL-A consisting mainly of Single-A teams.
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 preparatory requirements of the teams over the format of the competition”.
The teams finishing at 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.
The action will take place at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, the home of Herts Baseball Club.
23 games are scheduled to be played on the two diamonds. The competition begins on March 18 with a clash between the Bracknell Inferno and the Kent Mariners in the HSL Single-A bracket. The HSL Majors commences on the same day when the London Mammoths will face the Lakenheath Lancers while the HSL Double-A division will open with an encounter between the Essex Redbacks and the London Marauders.
In the final weekend of the HSL the schedule will include the National Baseball League season opener between the Herts Falcons and the Brighton Jets. It will be interesting to see if the attendance at Grovehill Ballpark will be higher than that at Farnham Park on the same day for the other NBL clash between the London Mets and the Southampton Mustangs.
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.