Category: Adult Leagues

Herts Falcons appoint Clark as interim manager

Herts Falcons appoint Clark as interim manager

Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that interim manager, Carlos Casal, has stepped down from his position and the club has appointed Phil Clark as the new interim manager while manager Cris Hiche is out of the country for family reasons.

Clark is one of the longest serving members of the Herts Falcons.  He joined the team in 2012 when they recorded their best season in the NBL reaching the national final where they lost to the Harlow Nationals in game 6.

The Falcons have had a difficult season so far but in the last few weeks there have been signs that the team is regaining its competitiveness coming close to picking up their first win in extra innings against the Lancashire Legends.

Their next game is this Sunday, 4 July, against the London Legends at Roundhsaw Playing Fields in Croydon. First pitch is at 11:30am.

vs

Details

Date Time League Season
4 July 2021 11:30 am National Baseball League 2021

Field

Roundshaw Playing Fields
Roundshaw Park Playing Fields, London Borough of Sutton, London, Greater London, England, CR0 4RW, United Kingdom

Results

Team12345678910RHEOutcome
London Legendsxxxxxxxxxx15xxWin
Falconsxxxxxxxxxx3xxLoss
Herts Hawks appoint Purewal as new manager

Herts Hawks appoint Purewal as new manager

Earlier this month Herts Hawks player-manager, Tetsuro Shinkawa (pictured below), was informed that he will have to undergo a non-baseball medical procedure and he is expected to require a period of recovery after it which will keep him away from baseball.

Everyone at the club hopes that the procedure will go well and that Tets will be back to full fitness quickly after that.

The club has just announced that Kyle Purewal (pictured at the top) has been appointed as the new player-manager of the Herts Hawks.  The 28-year-old joined the club at the start of this season having previously played in Canada and in the UK with Bracknell. Since joining the club in the Spring, Purewal has also been actively involved off the field taking on a role in the club’s media department.

His first game as Hawks manager is this Sunday, 27 June, when the Hawks will host the Essex Archers at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead. First pitch is at 12pm.

Herts submits its bid to host the 2021 National Baseball Championships

Herts submits bid to host the 2021 National Baseball Championships

Herts Baseball Club has submitted its bid to host 2021 Postseason Playoff games in the adult leagues of the British Baseball Federation (BBF). If the BBF awards any of these events to Herts, they will be staged at the club’s Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead.

Richmond Flames lifting the NBL trophy at Grovehill Ballpark in 2010 (photo by event-photos.co.uk)

The events which clubs are invited to bid for include the Wild Card Playoffs and National Semi-Finals and Finals of all four BBF league tiers, from the Single-A League to the National Baseball League (NBL).

Grovehill Ballpark has previously hosted the National Baseball Championships (NBCs) in 2010 and 2012.  In 2013 the national baseball and softball complex at Farnham Park was constructed and these NBC games were held at that venue since then.

Action from the 2010 NBL playoffs hosted by Herts (photo by event-photos.co.uk)

However, the costs of staging these events at Farnham Park are proving to be very high and the BBF has decided to open the opportunity for clubs to host these high-profile events at their own ballparks similar to how the Football Association held England national team and Football League Playoff Final games around the country while the new Wembley Stadium was being built.

Championship-winning moments like this from 2010 could return to Grovehill Ballpark this year (photo by Will Baxter)

Herts Baseball Club has also expressed interest in hosting the National Youth Baseball Championships and is awaiting details from the BBF of the bidding process.

The Postseason games will be played in September. The exact game schedule and the successful bidder(s)  will be announced by the BBF in the coming weeks.

Matt Davis joins the Herts coaching staff

Coach Matt Davis to work with Herts players this summer

In June 2019, just ahead of the MLB London Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Herts baseball players had the rare opportunity to be coached by Monte Brooks, head coach of The Master’s University baseball team with over 700 college wins.

He was accompanied by a number of player-coaches from his university. One of them was Matt Davis (pictured above, far left). This week it was confirmed that he will be back working with Herts players during the Wednesday evening baseball sessions at Basing Hill Ballpark twice a month over the next three months, starting tomorrow, Wednesday, 9 June.

Matt Davis was a pitcher with Liberty University (NCAA Division 1) from 1990-1991 and with The Master’s University (NAIA Division 1) from 1992-1994. In 2020 he was assistant coach at The Master’s University under coach, Monte Brooks. Currently, he is chaplain for the London Broncos (Rugby League).

https://youtu.be/gm6BuueGBts
Coach Monte Brooks at Basing Hill Ballpark in June 2019

Matt Davis specialises in pitching but he will also cover other aspects of the game with the Herts players this summer.

Although these sessions are for club members only, new players are able to come to one of these sessions to try baseball and to help them decide if they would like to join the club. Contact the club to book a place at an upcoming session.

Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding deadline extended

Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding deadline extended

The Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding campaign deadline has been extended to July 21.

Herts Baseball Club suffered a setback in March when they learned that they narrowly missed out on funding from The Mayor of London‘s Make London Fund.

Since then the club has been in discussions with businesses and organisations and, although the campaign is still far from its fundraising target, it may receive a considerable boost if one or several of these discussions lead to a pledge.

The extension of the deadline gives the potential backers, who have expressed interest in the Basing Hill Ballpark project, additional time to consider whether they would like to make a pledge.

To date, the campaign has received pledges from 124 backers amounting to £12,528 which is 22% of the £55,804 target.

Businesses, sponsors and other backers who may be interested to support the project can contact the club to discuss ways in which this could be a good fit and beneficial for them. They would have the additional assurance from the fact that the club passed the project viability verification process carried out by the independent organisation Locality, which was a prerequisite to pitch to the Mayor of London.

Historic first for Herts is a highlight of Opening Day

Historic first for Herts is a highlight of Opening Day

The Herts Falcons chalked up an historic moment for the club on Sunday’s Opening Day, fielding two women players in the NBL side for the first time.

Jessica Vernon and Marianna Casal were on the team which took on the Essex Arrows at Grovehill to start the 2021 BBF season. Unfortunately, they were on the wrong end of two high-scoring defeats, but that couldn’t overshadow the importance of the moment.

Women’s baseball in the UK has made huge and sudden strides over the past 18 months, and Herts is delighted to be a part of that. The club is proud of its record in being open to all talents, and has featured several women players in its ranks over the years – but never at the top level. We are hopeful this can be another step forward, and our aim is to grow the game for all groups.

We think this might have been the first NBL team to feature two women players, and the first to have one of them pitch – but we can’t be certain of that. When Jess Vernon did take the mound, she was certainly highly effective – recording the only 1-2-3 inning for either side on the day.

Marianna Casal in action (pic: Tony Small)

Marianna Casal has been linked to Herts for many years through her family, as her father and brother have both played for the club. That deep connection runs from the first Herts Little League sides, where she was a singer, fan, mascot and then a player. She won a European Championship with the GB under-19 softball side in 2016.

Marianna as a junior Herts fan

Sharing the diamond with her brother and father on Sunday at Grovehill gave the day an extra-special element:

After so many years of being on the sidelines just watching how cool they are, I was excited that I’m a part of it now. They are such a huge part of why I am where I am now. I am truly grateful for all the opportunities that I am getting to progress in the sport that I love – and grateful to Falcons coach Cris Hiche for saying he wanted me on the team.”

In 2017, Jessica Vernon made her first appearance at Grovehill Ballpark. She played for Bracknell’s Single-A side against the Raptors. Since then she has had success in softball and competitive cheerleading, and back to baseball to become a leading light in the women’s game.

She is a founder member of Belles Baseball, who were the first women’s team to enter the Herts Spring League, and who will be part of the inaugural women’s league in 2021. The team was recently featured on BBC television and has been spreading the word about women’s baseball.

Jessica’s performance was rewarded with the BSUK Player of the Week award, which is based on nominations from the baseball community.

Jess Vernon pitching (pic: Tony Small)

The Falcons have seen a lot of change in the off-season and enter this year with fresh hopes. The games against the Arrows were competitive, but not perhaps classics of tight baseball. Game 1 ended 16-13 to the visitors, while game 2 stepped up another level into a football score, ending 24-23.

Marianna Casal said she had loved every single second of the experience, despite the results, and cannot wait for the rest of the season:

“Hearing men from the other team get surprised about what I can do was a lot of fun for me. It will be even more fun when no-one is surprised – when everyone just knows who they’re up against. I was shaking when I got on the field but after making my first play, I just reminded myself that I belong there.”

The new Herts recruits were welcomed by all their team mates. And huge credit goes to the visiting Essex Arrows too. Surprised as they might have been, witnesses at the ballpark say the Arrows offered the same respect to Casal and Vernon as to all the other players.

In a turbulent week for British baseball, these were the good memories and positive images people want to take forward. Amy Trask, who played for the Bracknell Blazers a decade ago in the NBL, said: “It’s great to see women in baseball doing amazing things, and all the support it’s getting.”

The highlight of the weekend elsewhere for Herts came at the first derby game of the year in Single A, where the Londoners were hosting the Eagles at Basing Hill. The visitors’ Alex Plehn – who joined the club last year but has never before played in a BBF league game — hit two home runs. The second of them, a 3-run homer, was key to a 6-5 victory in the second game. Rookie Tom Hill also delivered with his debut on the pitching mound before turning the game over to veteran Mike Wakelam.

The star of the first game, apart from that Plehn home run, was the fielding of Greg Bochan. The former Hawks boss was now manning the hot corner of third base for the Londoners, and made two quality plays before capping it all with a web gem, diving to his left to snare a hard hit ball before somehow making the throw across the diamond too. Londoners won this one 13-5.

The other Single A team, the Raptors, travelled to the Redbacks. Despite some strong performances, the team of mainly novices could not overcome Essex who won 15-6 and 16-8. The Hawks lost 14-8 and 10-8 in Oxford in the Double A league.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this article, including Jess, Marianna, Tony Small, Amy Trask and Lee Manning.

2021 Opening Day – British baseball teams have waited 20 months for this

2021 Opening Day – British baseball teams have waited 20 months for this

The last British baseball league game was played twenty months ago. The wait is finally over as baseball teams up and down the country are gearing up for the Opening Day of the 2021 baseball season this Sunday.

2021 Opening Day Schedule

DateHomeTime/ResultsAwayLeagueField
Single-A (Central)
Basing Hill Ballpark
National Baseball League
Grovehill Ballpark
Single-A (Central)
Forest Glade
Single-A (Central)
Basing Hill Ballpark
Double-A (Central)
Horspath Athletics Ground

The league schedules produced some enticing matchups for the five Herts teams. The Herts Falcons open the season at home against the Essex Arrows. The two teams in fact faced each other this last weekend as part of the Herts Spring League. The Falcons came out on top with a 7-6 win but the pre-season games are not always a good predictor for the season ahead as managers often use these Spring League games to evaluate new players in different roles.

In the Double-A League, the Herts Hawks start their campaign on the road against the Oxford Kings. This will be manager Tetsuro Shinkawa’s (pictured above) first official league game as a manager at Herts and his roster is expected to feature many players who will be making their first appearance in the third tier of British baseball.

The Herts Raptors are also away this Sunday.  They face the Essex Redbacks who finished above them in 2019 and new Raptors manager Ken Pike will want to get off to a good start in the race for the Single-A playoffs.

The Raptors are one of the three Herts teams in the Single-A Central division.  The other two are the Herts Eagles and Herts Londoners who will face each other at Basing Hill Ballpark in the first of many Herts derbies this season. In fact there will be at least one Herts derby in each month of the regular season from May until August, but two dates stand out in particular. On May 30 and August 8 all three Herts teams will be playing at the same venue in back-to-back games which are expected to attract bumper crowds, with social distancing of course.

The season is about to begin but new players are still registering to play and the managers have deliberately left room in the rosters at all league levels, in order to be able to welcome new players, from beginners to advanced, throughout the year.  For more details about joining the Herts adult and youth league teams or to try baseball at a free open session, contact us.

Photos by photograher Tony Small

Ballparks are starting to take shape ahead of 2021 Opening Day

Diamonds starting to take shape ahead of 2021 Opening Day

At Herts Baseball Club’s annual general meeting in January, it was reported that the club has put a more comprehensive field maintenance programme for Grovehill Ballpark in order to preserve it as one of the best baseball venues in the United Kingdom.

On 29 March Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed that outdoor activities for organised sports can resume. A few days later the first event for Herts was its annual field maintenance day. Since the end of the 2019 baseball season it has been difficult to carry out any significant work at the ballpark due to the pandemic.

The focus on Saturday, 3 April, was to remove weeds and grass which had grown into the infield clay areas. The club hired specialised machinery for this and it delivered visible improvements on both diamonds in Hemel Hempstead. A day later players from the five Herts adult teams were back for their first Spring Training session of the year and that included some field maintenance work which everyone contributed to.

https://twitter.com/HertsBaseball/status/1379425686184718338

Two days later the project continued with aeration and light rolling of the turf which is expected to improve the surface not only in the short run, but over the medium term as water and nutrients will be able to reach the grass roots, resulting in healthier, stronger growth and a denser grass surface.

The club’s branch in North West London is also being prepared for the new season with rolling implemented in March. Of course that venue is at a very early stage of development and the more significant upgrade of the facility will come as part of the larger Basing Hill Project which the club is currently crowdfunding for.

Countdown to HSL – first chance to see the teams ahead of the 2021 British baseball season

Countdown to HSL – first chance to see the teams ahead of the 2021 British baseball season

The Herts Spring League (HSL) will see 22 teams play 21 games on the weekend of 24 and 25 April. Organised by Herts Baseball Club, it is Britain’s version of MLB’s Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, and it signals that the season is just around the corner.

FORMAT

The 22 teams have been placed into four HSL divisions – NBL, Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A – based on the ranking of the teams going into the 2021 baseball season.

Most of the teams have been placed into pools of four teams. The semi-final pairings have been confirmed and the winners will face each other in the final, while the losing teams in each pool will also play each other in their second game of the day.

The teams finishing at the top of their respective division will be the HSL champions.

THE VENUE

The action will take place at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, the home of Herts Baseball Club.

SCHEDULE

The HSL is usually played over three weekends, but the national lockdown reduced the time available for Spring Training ahead of Opening Day on 2 May.

21 games will be played on two diamonds. The competition begins on Saturday, 24 April, with the Double-A division followed by afternoon and evening games from the Single-A division. Among the Single-A teams are the Belles who will make history as the first ever all-women’s baseball team to play in the HSL.

On Sunday, 25 April, the NBL and Triple-A divisions will be in action with several interesting matchups including the London Archers and BC Vetra, a team which will play in the BBF Triple-A league for the first time this year.

Click to view full 2021 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 through the minor leagues? 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

Players, from beginners to advanced, are now registering for the 2021 baseball season. For more details about how to join the Herts baseball teams in Hemel Hempstead and in NW London or for more details about the HSL or if you are interested to give baseball a try to help you decide whether to join the team contact Herts Baseball Club.

22 teams enter the 2021 HSL

22 teams enter the 2021 HSL

Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that 22 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 and Single-A Leagues.

The London Archers are also back for their third year in the HSL. They made history in 2019 year by becoming the first British team to win the Pony European Championships and qualified for the Pony World Series which was played in Pennsylvania. 

The HSL teams will be divided into four divisions as follows:

HSL – NBL
TEAM CLASS HSL RANKING
Essex Arrows   3
Herts Falcons   4
London Capitals   2
London Mets   1
HSL – Triple-A
TEAM CLASS HSL RANKING
BC Vetra   8
Essex Redbacks   6
London Archers   7
London Marauders   9
London Mammoths   5
Milton Keynes Bucks   10
HSL – Double-A
TEAM CLASS HSL RANKING
Croydon Pirates   13
Herts Hawks   14
London Musketeers   12
Sidewinders   11
HSL – Single-A
TEAM CLASS HSL RANKING
Bracknell Inferno   15
Herts Eagles   22
Herts Raptors   18
Herts Londoners   21
London Mustangs   16
London Minotaurs   20
Milton Keynes Bucks 2   17
Southern Belles   19