Words by Fred Atkins, ECB Reporters Network
Southern Vipers will play Northern Diamonds in the final of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Lord’s on Sunday, after they routed the South East Stars by six wickets in Wednesday’s eliminator at Beckenham.
The Vipers closed on 143-4 to win with 16 overs to spare, having earlier bowled out the Stars for 139, Tara Norris taking 3-29.
Jemima Spence anchored the innings as the Stars recovered from 37 for five, making her highest List A score of 45 not out, but the second highest contribution was 28 extras and the hosts were all out after 42.2 overs.
In a run chase devoid of tension, Ella McCaughan and Maia Bouchier put on 98 for the first wicket before the latter was bowled for 51, while the former fell for 47. The Vipers have now played the Stars five times in this competition and have won all five.
Beckenham may have a reputation as a batters’ paradise, but when play started at 10.30am conditions were overcast, damp and chilly.
After winning a toss they would probably rather have lost the Stars chose to bat, only to lose three wickets in the first four overs.
Chloe Hill stumped Kira Chathli off Charlotte Taylor for one in the second over and Bryony Smith made just seven before she edged Tara Norris behind in the third.
Norris then claimed her second victim in the fourth when Chloe Brewer was brilliantly caught in the slips by Bouchier.
After a partial rebuild, debutant Mary Taylor struck twice in as many overs. Phoebe Franklin was bowled for 15 before Rhianna Southby was lbw for one.
Paige Scholfield struck in her first over, trapping Ryana MacDonald-Gay lbw for eight and Finty Trussler was just seven balls into her spell when she bowled Davies for four.
Norris bowled Alexa Stonehouse for 11 and when Georgia Adams ran out Eva Gray for one, deflecting a straight drive from Spence on to the stumps, the Stars were 100-9.
By that point, however, conditions were improving and Danielle Gregory joined Spence to put on the biggest partnership of the innings, contributing 13 from 34 balls before she was bowled by Trussler.
The sun was shining by the time the Vipers began the chase and with the required rate under three an over there was little pressure on the openers. Neither Bouchier nor McCaughan offered the bowlers any encouragement as they cruised towards the target.
Bouchier strolled past 50 with a single to mid off from Gregory before she tried to pull Davies and played on. McCaughan holed out to Smith and was caught by Davies at long on but by then the visitors only needed 30 to win.
Franklin subsequently bowled Adams for one with a ball that nipped back, but Scholfield, having levelled the scores with a six over long on, was then bowled by Gregory’s next ball for 11, leaving Emily Windsor to drive the winning boundary through the covers and sending them through to their third consecutive final against the Diamonds.