Women’s Softball Festival Report

On Saturday (25th) our Women’s Softball Cricket team travelled to Stanton Harcourt for Oxenford’s rearranged festival.
Originally an 8-a-side festival, it was reduced to 6-a-side. The format is pairs cricket – start at 200, each pair bats for 2 overs, everyone bowls, 2 runs for no balls/wides but no extra balls until final over and lose 5 runs per wicket lost.
We started against Horspath, borrowing one of their players as one of ours was running late. We restricted them to a getable score of 248 (for 2 wkts) with Mia’s over only going for 3 runs (1wkt). In reply our loanee and debutant Karen Cross gave us a good start but, in the end, despite Katie & Mia getting 22 runs as a pair against good bowling, we fell 10 runs short on 238 for 2.
Next up was Freeland. A superb start saw Chelsea (1 wkt) and Jo (2) put them on the back foot after 2 overs. We restricted them to 229 for 5. In reply everyone batted well with Lucy & Jo, Chelsea & Karen putting us within touching distance of their score, allowing Katie & Mia (25 runs for pair) to see us home to a comfortable win by 22 runs, finishing on 251 for 2.
We carried on the winning habit against the hosts, Oxenford. An all-round excellent bowling and fielding display with one of their players scoring half their runs,  smashing 5 fours in a row off good balls as they finished on 243 for 2. In reply, we passed their score after two pairs with Chelsea & Jo contributing 35 and, despite losing two late wickets in 2 balls, Jess & Zoe, in their first game of the day, guided us to a comfortable win by 19 runs, reaching 262 for 2.
Our penultimate game was against Softball Cricket debutants, Steventon, all their players having had hard ball experience. Again a solid performance in the field – Zoe went for only 4 runs and Chelsea for the same (1 wkt). They finished on 244 for 3. In reply we were steady but lost wickets as we were getting on top, thus leaving a little too much for the final pair to see us home. The game was much closer as they had the rub of the green, we lost that vital extra wicket and one dropped catch that went over the boundary for a maximum.
Finally,  we played the previously undefeated Thame, another debutant and again all hardball players. But we literally saved the best for last. Everyone deserves a bowling mention here but Mia’s 2 off her last 2 balls won the MOM award, and we restricted the eventual winners to 227 for 4 (in comparison they had scored 290 in an earlier game). Despite losing wickets we were always ahead of their score but still required 8 off the last over. Step up skipper Katie with a 6 off the penultimate ball to see us home by 4 runs (231 for 5). A brilliant performance 
Overall we finished 3rd, a very creditable effort, winning 3 and losing 2. We scored 216 runs, losing 15 wickets,  whereas we gave away 191 runs and took 16 wickets.
Thanks to everyone who played. My highlights include Jo’s 5 wickets, Lucy not giving away any extras in 3 games played, Karen’s wicket keeping, and Mia’s 2 wickets in 2 balls (I can’t wait for the 1st Festival in 2022 for the hat-trick ball), Chelsea smashing 6’s for fun, the return of Banbury Ladies first ever player of the year Jess Hummer, and Katie’s 6 off the penultimate ball against Thame. It’s worth noting all bar two of our players had never played competitive cricket before this year.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has played in the festivals this year. We started literally from scratch. I look forward to next year and lots more fun. If you want to join in please get in touch with Mark Austin.
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