Challenge match climaxes “Hit the Pitch” university programme
Thu 29 Mar 2012
Wednesday, March 21 was a warm and sunny day, and the Daws Hill Spitfires baseball ground in High Wycombe was the perfect setting for a first-ever slowpitch softball challenge match between the Bucks New University Softball Club and the Roehampton University All-Stars.
The occasion marked the climax of a six-month BSUK “Hit the Pitch” development programme at the two universities that began in October 2011, with professional coaches delivering softball sessions that led to the formation of university teams.
The game itself featured an even mix of women and men, who took to the field with their new gloves and made some great catches and stops during the course of an exciting contest. Some players even slid into bases!
The Roehampton All Stars fought back in the last inning to make it a close finish, but the end result was a 19-14 win by the Bucks New University team, who hit the ball hard and fielded sharply throughout.
As many as 30 new university participants took part in the game. Universities and colleges are a key target audience for BSUK development work, and both universities are now focused on recruiting more players to take part in further “Hit the Pitch” university tournaments or games that BSUK will organise.
BSUK's “Hit the Pitch” development programme is bringing more and more educational and workplace groups into softball, aided in this case by local clubs.
In partnership with the two universities, BSUK London and South East regional staff members Patrick Knock, Stan Doney and Liam Carroll worked to secure funding for softball sessions run on both campuses that began last October.
Meanwhile, Chalfont Softball Club and Daws Hill Baseball Club both made valuable contributions to the programme, with Chalfont Head Coach Neil Turner delivering sessions at Bucks New University and leading their team against Roehampton in the friendly game. Daws Hill Baseball Club also supported the initial sessions by loaning equipment to Bucks New University as well as providing an umpire and access to their home field for the match against Roehampton.
With these partnerships in place, there are great opportunities for the students to continue playing softball or baseball locally during the summer months.
Carina Page, Sports Development and Strategy Manager at Bucks New University, was delighted to see the students take to a new sport.
“Adding 'Hit the Pitch' softball to our Sport for Fun offer has provided our students with a fun, new and easily accessible sport,” Carina said. “We have proudly trained up new coaches with BSUK to help make the sport sustainable.”
Mary Robinson, Roeactivator New Activities Officer at Roehampton University added: “The match was extremely successful and both teams had a great ‘real’ softball experience. Roehampton All-Stars, who are now keen for their first softball triumph, will be preparing for forthcoming friendly competitions and tournaments.
“Sport Roehampton will be fully supporting the growth and development of the softball club at the university,” Mary said, “and will provide guidance to our newly appointed Softball Officer. We are excited about the next big step for the club, which will be to form and sustain an intra-mural league.”
Following the interest generated from the “Hit the Pitch” sessions, both universities have worked with BSUK to recruit students to the post of Higher Education Softball Officers (HESO).
At Bucks New University, this role will be jointly held by Lucy Barker and Samuel Bottom, while at Roehampton University Eman Seidi will be stepping up to the plate. They will promote and organise the sport at their campuses, with the first mission being to create intra-mural activity.
BSUK's South East Regional Development Manager Patrick Knock said, “A massive thanks to all who have been involved in the project work across the two universities -- they have been the key drivers! We are chuffed to have the two teams form from the “Hit the Pitch” sessions and want to take this forward now to create more intra-mural teams – and continue Roehampton v BNU as an annual game!”