The Leicester Blue Sox junior baseball programme is looking in good health following both national and international success this month.
Last weekend, the Leicester ‘Little Sox’ u11 team became the UK Coach Pitch Champions for the first time in their four-year history. The tournament held at the Farnham Park National Baseball Centre near Slough featured three other strong teams from London, Brighton and Hemel Hempstead. The round-robin tournament meant that the eventual champions would need to win all three of their games on the day and that is exactly what the Little Sox did.
It wasn’t plain sailing in the first game against London Sports, as Leicester quickly found themselves 5-0 behind and their tournament ambitions on the rocks.
However an amazing comeback appeared to be on the cards at the top of the third inning when Shannon Browne got things started with the team’s first RBI of the game; three more runs then crossed the plate to make it a one run ball game. In the bottom of the third, Little Sox shortstop Connor Young achieved the incredible feat of getting three London players out in one-move - an unassisted ‘triple play’ to huge cheers from the supporters.
Four more runs came across the plate for Leicester in the top of the final inning, including a home run for Elijah Webster, this gave Little Sox a 8-5 lead to hold onto in the bottom of the final frame.
London Sports battled to the very last, scoring a consolation run with bases loaded but it wasn’t enough to stop the Leicester revival. Little Sox finished the first game 8-6 with their tails up. The momentum created then carried them forward through for the rest of the tournament.
Leicester’s bats didn’t stay silent for long against Brighton Fireballs in game 2. The Little Sox took an early 3-0 lead and remained ahead, thanks to superior hitting by all the team and strong infield defence from pitcher fielder Wyatt Bryson and first baseman Arnav Rai, who combined to get 12 of the game's 15 outs over 5 innings. Leicester rode out 12-3 winners knowing that they were just one win away from becoming National Champions.
Game 3 against Herts All-Stars was similar with Little Sox
hitting well up and down the entire batting order. Bryson, Rai and Young again
were superb in the infield limiting the impact of Herts strong batting.
Leicester took the game 11-3 and with that became deserved Champions.
Earlier this month, Bryson, Rai and their Little Sox team mates Reuben Crawshaw and Megan Rollins achieved even more success playing for the United Kingdom u10 team at the European SuperCup tournament in Prague. Team UK won another trophy, this time the third-tier Blue Cup championship after defeating strong Czech outfit Olympia Blansko 8-5 in their final. In the individual skills contest Rai won the silver medal in the throwing discipline.
Matt Crawshaw who coaches both the Little Sox and manages the Team UK programme said “It has been an amazing month of baseball for our talented young players here in Leicester. Team UK put in a much-improved performance at the SuperCup, which continues to move us up the European rankings. Then a first-ever National title for the Little Sox has been the icing on the cake. The future for baseball in our city looks incredibly bright!”