Panthers and Vikings men softball teams will have to fight another day after bad lighting stopped their match this past Sunday afternoon. In an absorbing encounter held at the National Diamond, the two sides had to abandon their match in the seventh and last inning after Vikings’ catcher informed the umpire he could not see clearly as dusk descended over the National Diamond. In a game that pitted the wits of Panthers’ coach Tony Moyo against that of his Vikings counterpart Misael Thompson, it was Panthers who seemed much likelier to snatch victory before the game was abandoned.
The two sides were tied at two runs each when the game was called off, with Panthers yet to play their bottom seven innings, while Vikings had already played theirs at the top and had failed to register a run. Throughout the game, it was Vikings who looked the most likely side to win the game, that is, until the sixth innings when Panthers rallied back to level scores. After both teams nullified each other and failed to net a run in the first two innings, the game exploded into life in the third inning when Vikings, who were playing at the top, opened the scores courtesy of Gomolemo Tshelametsi. Taking advantage of handling errors by Panthers short stop Elliot Kgatlhanang and Bareedi Kealeboga at second base, Tshelametsi made two bases, running from second and making it home to give Vikings a well deserved lead.
Thompson’s charges could however not extend their lead but they restricted Panthers from registering a run when they came to bat. The fourth inning went the way of the first two, with neither of the two sides managing a single run. This would however not go on forever as Vikings eventually extended their run lead in the fifth innings, this time through Moses Kgosimore. While Vikings failed to add more runs, they however stopped Panthers from making any runs in their innings, and thus went into the sixth innings with two runs while Panthers were yet to have any. Panthers’ coach Moyo’s decision to replace tiring pitcher Felix Sebudula with Aldrin Villander in the fifth innings proved a masterstroke on the sixth innings as Vikings could not make a single run, setting the stage for Panthers to make their own comeback. Taking advantage of Viking’s failure to extend their lead, Panthers blew the game open as they scored two runs in the sixth innings to tie the game going into the last innings. An error by Vikings shot stop allowed Tiro Mazulungwa to reduce arrears for Panthers before another run by Elliot Kgatlhanang tied the game at 2- 2 going into the last innings. Playing at the top of the innings, Vikings then failed to make a single run in their innings, leaving Panthers with a chance to hit a run and win the game.
It was however not to be for Panthers as Vikings’ catcher alerted the umpire of poor visibility in the ground, and after consultations, the game was abandoned. Commenting on the game, both the coaches admitted that the game had to be abandoned as per the rules and regulations to avoid injuries to players and umpires. Vikings Coach Thompson however expressed pleasure at how his team performed, saying it bode well for the team as it is rebuilding. “The young kids are playing very well. Even if they lose, they lose with very tight margins. This means our youthful players are coming up very well and I am very happy with them,” the Cuban coach said.
For his part, Panthers coach, Moyo, praised his team for a well played game. “Our boys played very well even though we struggled in the first three innings, but it was a great comeback for us to have tied the game at a very crucial point. We had to make adjustments to put runners in bases and it worked,” Moyo explained. According to both coaches, the onus will now be on the Botswana Softball Association to re-fixture the encounter.