Chichester Falcons put the city on the softball world map when they took a squad to the Almere ’90 Windmill Classic softball tournament in the Netherlands.
A team of ten players flew out to meet up with expat-Falcon Ilse van Roessel at the tournament venue in Almere, 20 miles outside Amsterdam. Pitted against teams from all over Europe, the Falcons quickly found the standard of play was much higher than in the UK.
Many of the opposing teams were made up of US military personnel from bases in Holland, Germany and England, so that brought big hitting and fast, exciting softball.
The Falcons held their own and turned double plays, struck out the big sticks for fun and dispatched one of the European sides, The Usual Suspects, 9-1 on the first day.
The second day brought drama as right fielder Kelly Mikulla made a full stretch leap to catch a flyball but landed awkwardly. The medical team were summoned as it became clear something was wrong - a visit to the local hospital revealed she had broken and dislocated her fibula and tibia.
In true Falcons style, Kelly was back with the team at the earliest opportunity; smiling and in plaster, scheduled for an operation on her return home to Chichester. Her amazing catch still counted in the game to end the third inning.
With one further match to play, what followed will go down in the Falcons’ history books forever. Despite their best efforts, the Chichester side had not yet managed to hit a home run in their first tournament abroad.
Cue Sam McGann at the plate, who crushed a formidable homer well over the left field fence. Pandemonium ensued in the Falcons dugout as McGann rounded the bases, leaving the team happy to pick up their tournament trophy in the closing presentation ceremony.
“We expected tough opposition and we certainly got that,” said captain David Morris. “We got stuck in and competed against softballers who compete at an international level, we made a lot of new friends and made a good account of ourselves and the city.
“After picking up a nasty injury, Kelly bravely showed real team spirit and Sam’s home run gave us something to talk about for years to come.”
Anyone who wants to try softball and join the Falcons should email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.chichesterfalcons.com. The Falcons run weekly sessions for kids and adults.