Lightning are celebrating their first victory in the Rachael Heyhoe Trophy after a six-run success over Central Sparks at Blackfinch New Road, Worcester.
A 148-run stand by Lightning openers Sarah Bryce and Bethan Ellis, a record in the Trophy, and a three-wicket burst by Alicia Presland condemned the Sparks to defeat.
Despite half centuries from Gwenan Davies and Marie Kelly, the hosts fell just short of their target and closed on 227-9.
Lightning were put into bat by Sparks captain Evelyn Jones on the same wicket used for last weekend’s match with Thunder.
Sarah Bryce and Ellis found the surface to their liking as they established a new partnership record for any wicket for the Trophy, laying the foundations for Lightning’s total of 233-8 in 50 overs.
Bryce continued her excellent form in the competition with her fourth successive half century, going on to make 75 from 98 balls. Ellis made an accomplished 62 from 101 balls.
The pair were both dismissed by Liz Russell on her return to the attack, as part of an impressive second spell of 7-1-26-2. However, that merely released Abigail Freeborn to capitalise on the fine start given to the Lightning innings with a quickfire 36.
The Sparks attack generally bowled tightly and spinner Anisha Patel picked up three wickets for 49 runs during her 10 overs spell. But they were let down by some indifferent ground fielding and also a crucial dropped catch – by Patel off Georgia Davis at short fine leg – when Ellis was on 17.
Sparks needed a positive start to their reply and it was supplied by Gwenan Davies and Jones who put on 41 in 8.1 overs.
Leah Kellogg made the initial breakthrough when Jones (10) tried to force through the off side and was bowled, but she was to go off injured after completing the over.
Jones was joined by Marie Kelly and the duo posed a half century stand in only 7.5 overs. Gwenan Davies reached 50 off 63 balls but did not add to her tally before she was lbw to Alicia Presland.
The Sparks looked well placed at 150-2 in the 31st over but then three wickets fell for seven runs, with two more of them to Presland.
Kelly, whose half century came from 76 deliveries, was bowled by Teresa Graves before Presland sent back Poppy Davies (8) and Milly Home (2) in successive overs.
The run rate started to climb, and Chloe Hill (6) was caught right on the very edge of the mid-wicket boundary by Sarah Bryce. She seemed reluctant to depart the middle and the umpires conferred and spoke with the Lightning players before she strode off.
Emily Arlott hit a counter-attacking 19 before she lofted Kathryn Bryce to mid-off, and Georgia Davis (3) and Russell (1) were run out in the late scramble for runs, to leave Clare Boycitt unbeaten on 33 from 56 balls.
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