American sailors battle it out with Portsmouth softball team

The USS George HW Bush at anchor in Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire, England ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (170727-6460)
The USS George HW Bush at anchor in Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire, England ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (170727-6460)
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AMERICAN sailors will be going head-to-head in a battle of supremacy – with softball players from Portsmouth.

Twenty men and women from the mighty American aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush will be taking part in the friendly match against the Solent Softball League.

The 100,000-tonne warship dropped anchor off Stokes Bay on Thursday morning and will be here until Monday.

Today’s game will take place in the playing fields next to Clarence Pier – and members of the home team are urging the people of Portsmouth to cheer them to victory.

Mike Doe, who is chairman of the league, said the last time his team encountered US sailors they faced a bruising defeat.

‘Last time we went up against them was about seven years ago,’ he said.

‘It was really good fun but they completely annihilated us. But it was all done in great spirit.’

Softball is similar to rounders. There are 10 people per side, with mixed teams made up of five women and five men.

A pitcher throws a ball, under-armed, to a batter who has to hit it and run around as many bases as possible, in a bid to wrack up points.

The game is due to take place from about 12.30pm to 3pm, weather dependent.

The match was set up by an American who lives in Portsmouth and is part of the softball league.

Mike, who lives in Stamshaw, said it was a great opportunity for servicemen to break the stereotypical view of an overseas sailor.

The 47-year-old said: ‘It’s a good way for them to build local relationships.

‘Sailors come to shore and often have this reputation for drinking and womanising.

‘That’s just not true. The sailors we’ve met have been brilliant.

‘The games start off as really competitive but then break down and become more friendly.’

Mike added that the action is open for people to watch – and to join in if they would like to.

He hoped the day would be a great way to encourage people to pick up softball.

The league has been around for 22 years. There are 15 teams, with seven in Portsmouth, six in Southampton and one in Chichester. The sport runs all year round, with indoor seasons in the summer and outdoors during the autumn and winter.

Training was free, running every Wednesday at Tangier Field, in Tangier Road, Baffins. For details see