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					                   Australian Softball Federation
                        Grand Prix Series
                     Round 1 - Geelong 2003

Below is an extract from the report written by Warren Duff, regarding the Geelong
Leg of the Grand Prix Series. It has been edited prior to being placed online.

Introduction

The Grand Prix Series is a joint initiative between the Australian Softball Federation
and the Australian Institute of Sport to provide the elite female softballers of Australia
with more frequent and consistent domestic competition.

Round 1 of this three round event was hosted by the Geelong Softball Association of
the weekend of 28th, 29th and 30th of November 2003. Attending the inaugural event
from Western Australia was Warren Duff – Level 5 Umpire and WA State Umpire in
Chief.

Travel was arranged privately to arrive on Thursday 27th November at Melbourne
airport, where I was picked up by Margo Koskelainen, National Umpire in Chief.
Ground transport in the form of a hire van was provided by ASF and the local
Victorian Umpires.

Accommodation was provided at the Geelong Mercure Hotel, where a group booking
had been made by ASF. All players, team officials and umpires were housed in a
single complex. I was in a twin share room with Leigh Evans. Umpire’s
accommodation was provided by ASF.

Meals

Breakfast was included in the accommodation charge. Lunch was provided by the
Geelong Softball Association. Dinner was a self funded and managed affair, apart
from the Saturday night, where Geelong catered for all the umpires. Due to the hectic
game schedule there was no time for dinner on some occasions.

Ground Condition and Facilities

The facilities and condition of the ground is a credit to the Geelong Softball
Association. One fully enclosed and lit skin diamond was complemented by a grass
diamond which had been enclosed using temporary fencing. The home run fence was
set to 225 feet. The remaining diamonds were used for teams as a warm up area.

The umpires change rooms were a short distance from the diamond and utilized the
hockey facilities. The change rooms were of the highest quality I have ever
experienced as an umpire. A representative from the Hockey association was on hand
at all times to staff the canteen and provide assistance.
Ground Rules

The series used the same ground rules as used in National Fastpitch Leagues. These
included the use of a designated runner and 7 run mercy rule after 5 complete innings.
The yellow optic ball was used for all games. Several balls were removed from the
games over the course of the weekend due to them becoming split or flat in various
spots.

The tournament was run under the latest ASF Technical Bulletin which deals with the
length of games. Umpires were under instructions to keep games moving and to not
tolerate unnecessary delays in the game. Coaches and players fully supported this and
the majority of games were completed within the 90 minutes. One game that I was
personally involved in went 10 innings in under 2 hours.

The application of the technical bulletin varies from umpire to umpire and will be
used in the 2004 Nationals Series. It presented a great opportunity personally to
witness how other umpires (many if not all with international experience) utilized
various techniques to keep the games moving.

Teams in Attendance
The following teams were in attendance
    Victorian Institute of Sport Titans
    Queensland Institute of Sport Heat Wave
    Australian Institute of Sport All Stars
    Australian Capital Territory Cardinals
    New South Wales Institute of Sport Blues
    Western Arrows

The QIS Heatwave proved to be the overall winning, defeating the NSWIS Blues in
the bottom of the seven innings. The Victorian Titans were 3rd, followed by the
Western Arrows, AIS All Stars and the ACT Cardinals.

Umpires in Attendance

The umpires in attendance were:

Margo Koskelainen         NUIC, Tournament Chief Umpire
(Vic)
Neville Lawrance (SA)     Level 7 Umpire, SA SUIC and 2004 Athens Olympic
                          Umpire
Kerry Franklin (Vic)      Level 6 Umpire, VIC SUIC and 2000 Sydney Olympic
                          Umpire
Debbie Grove (Vic)        Level 6 Umpire and 2003 Umpire of the Year
Debbie Keogh (Vic)        Level 6 Umpire
Leigh Evans (Vic)         Level 6 Umpire
Kevin Broomhall (Vic)     Level 6 Umpire
Kevin Tanerbring (SA)     Level 5 Umpire
Warren Duff (WA)          Level 5 Umpire and WA SUIC
Kevin Offer (Vic)         Level 4 Umpire – 2004 Level 5 Candidate
Dave Roberts (SA)         Level 4 Umpire – 2004 Level 5 Candidate

It was an absolute pleasure and great opportunity to work with some of the most
experienced umpires in Australia. Of particular note was a 10 innings game where I
had the opportunity to work with Neville Lawrance and Debbie Grove. This game
was completed in 10 innings and showcased some of the best softball of the
tournament between the QIS Heatwave and the Victorian Titans.

Games

Over the course of the tournament, I personally umpired 7 games (52 innings in total)
including 1st base on the 3rd versus 4th play off game. The games were all of high
standard and played in excellent spirit.

Conclusion

This tournament was the highest standard of female competition that I have ever been
privileged to be exposed to. It will also go down as one of the most enjoyable
umpiring experiences in my career to date. I fully support the Grand Prix Series and
look forward to seeing WA involvement continue – not only from a playing
perspective but from the umpiring side.


Warren Duff
State Umpire in Chief
Softball WA