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London Charity Softball League: meet The Shield finalists!

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Introducing your finalists for the Bluestep Shield!

Excitement is building by the hour for the 2017 London Charity Softball League finals, happening this very Thursday, 24th August!

With the league growing ever more popular and bigger by the year, last year saw the introduction of a brand new trophy, courtesy of our fellow sponsors Bluestep Solutions (who are also responsible for our brilliant new branded bar tent, t-shirts and more), so this Thursday we'll find out who the second recipients of the Bluestep Shield will be!

It's Sporks vs Raptors, or Save the Children vs British Red Cross as you may know them better, in a visually bewildering clash of the red and whites vs the, erm, white and reds!

Here's what they had to say about the season and their hopes for the big match!

Amanda Lenhardt, Save the Children (Sporks vice-captain)

What are the best things about the league and making the final?

The league is such an institution for so many of us, and something to look forward to every summer. Softball is such a sociable and inclusive game, and it's really remarkable to be able to assemble so many people in one league to enjoy it. It's always a great way to spend time with people from around the sector, and a great opportunity to bring people together within an organisation.

Getting to the finals this year feels like an amazing achievement. We faced really great teams all year, went through a mid-season lull when numbers were low, and played through some pretty treacherous 'summer' weather. Getting to the finals feels extra special having really come together and found our stride in the second half of the season.

Funniest moment?

We played through some serious rain in our first game of the season against Crisis. I mean, monsoon-like weather - wind, rain, shivering cold. It started off alright, and both teams were having a great time, it was the first game of the season after all and we'd been waiting for this all winter! But the rain led to some serious bloopers all around. At one point the ball was hit into the outfield with two fielders running after it, and they somehow managed simultaneously slip right past each other and the ball skidded between them.

Who've been your toughest opponents this year?

We faced some brilliant opposition this year, it was a competitive league. But MacMillan were probably our toughest opponents of the season. We had a solid game that night, but they were great.

Friendliest team?

Despite our league being quite competitive, we had such friendly games. But our game against Rethink Mental Illness stands out as one of the friendliest. It was a good competitive game, but they were really nice and everyone had a great time.

What are your expectations for the finals night?

Our team spirit has been mounting over the last few weeks through so many exciting games. Part of that is song/chant tradition that's been building in volume week-on-week, so it's safe to expect some serious acoustics from our side. We're also expecting a good amount of support from people around the organisation that have been following our season and encouraging us along all the way through. We're also expecting to catch up with people from around the league, finals night is always a great opportunity to see everyone. Whatever happens, it's sure to be a big night out!

Amanda Crozier, British Red Cross (Raptors captain)

Tell us about your history in the league?

The Raptors have been a longstanding team within the charity league and in the last two years our desire to reach a finals match grew; when I came on as Captain this year I set it as a clear objective - reaching the final. With my co-captain Amy to help, we knew it was going to be tricky with almost a completely new team. We recruited hard and scheduled practices in for good measure but the team were on board, we wanted to do well. The team spirit is great, and we worked hard!

What's the best thing about being part of it?

The best thing about being part of the league is the coming together of colleagues across what is a very large national and international charity. It's so hard to know everyone at our head office, but softball sees people from Fundraising, International, Legal and other directorates coming together that wouldn't normally always cross paths in day to day work. It's great!

One of the highlights of the season so far?

This year we had a funny incident which the team have proudly named 'Gita Gate.' Truthfully it wasn't a big scandal but it's more the joking around that comes with the new label to egg on the player in question Gita. But to tell you now what happened would be to out the so-called scandal and it's not my place to say.

Who's been your MVP this year?

This year the person with the most MVP's was our female pitcher Katie Clark. Katie is one of our new recruits this year and she has been an absolute trooper coming in to secure the title as star pitcher. She receives MVP for her consistent pitching style which I believe the other teams appreciate as her throws help players to best connect with the ball. She is also great with reflexes stopping a few shots into the field despite accidentally taking one ball to the face. Her cool, calm nature comes in handy when the pressure builds and a standoff between pitcher and batter mounts. Despite her smaller demeanour don't let her appearance fool you...

Toughest opponents so far?

This one I would have to say is Diabetes UK. It was such a close match and while we still had a lot of fun competition was tight. With the teams tussling as the points lead went back and forward across teams, before in the final moments we ended up tying the match. While I'm sure both teams would have preferred the win, the Raptors decided that there was actually no better outcome given both team's hunger and determination in the match to win!

And lastly, what are your expectations for the finals night?

The Raptors are quite a vocal team. We love cheering each other on and have our own chant. I anticipate a lot of fun, a little nerves and a supportive crowd. While we can't guarantee many of our supporters on site given the match time we know we have the whole organisation behind us. Working operationally in similar environments Save the Children and the Red Cross have a lot of history. Whichever team wins, it's a team well worth the title!

Many thanks and good luck to both Amandas, all the Sporks and the Raptors, and may the best red-and-white (or white-and-red) clad team win!

Meanwhile look out for our third and final feature tomorrow, meeting the teams competing for the grandaddy of them all, The Harris Hill Cup!

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