By Kyra Bradley
The weekend of 18-19 March saw twelve of the Hornets baseball club’s best players travel to the country’s top baseball and softball venue, Farnham Park, in Buckinghamshire, to take part in the National University Baseball Championships (NUBC).
Fifteen universities from across the UK took part, and Sheffield battled it out all weekend to finish in a respectable eighth place with two wins and two losses. The Hornet’s first game on Saturday was against Southampton, who had narrowly won their last game at the Spring 2015 NUBC. A one-ball, one-strike starting count for every batter imposed by tournament officials ensured the team swung lots and got on base, with Rob Moran hitting the 285-foot fence twice in centre field on his birthday.
Due to the talented pitching by recruit Jorge Llamas, the Hornets emerged victorious by seven runs to Southampton’s two.
Uni of next faced the practically undefeated Loughborough first team. Although the Hornet’s made a lot of contact with the ball, a strong Loughborough fielded most of the hits easily and prevented the team from scoring many runs, resulting in a loss.
Although the team accumulated injuries by the third game of the day, the Hornets fought hard against Coventry, veteran pitcher Janet Wang staying strong throughout. Coventry’s wavering pitching and fielding led to many Hornets getting on base and scoring, due to Spencer Lawn’s smart baserunning and steals, forcing a pick-off at third base.
Rookie Ryan White defended the infield during his first time at third base, keeping most of Coventry’s squad from advancing past first.
By 5.45pm the game ended after dwindling light conditions made it near impossible to play on, the Hornets winning 9-3.
Uni of didn’t know what to expect from their last NUBC game on Sunday against Queen Mary, relative newcomers to the university baseball scene. Although Wang switched to catching and performed admirably alongside Llamas, the exhaustion and pulled muscles from previous games meant the Hornets failed to pull ahead against a competitive team. QML’s triumph resulted in the Hornets dropping from a potential sixth place to eighth.
To save having to travel again after two rained-out attempts the NUBC Committee squeezed in another Hornet’s game, in which they beat Nottingham and as a result scuppered their chances of winning the Midlands title of the National University Baseball League.
The experience picked up by the players at the event will go some way to the future expansion of the club in 2017/18, in which they hope to dominate the league.