Northern Diamonds continue to shine with unbeaten Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy record
The Diamonds took three out of three wins as they held the home side to 214-6 on their 50 overs and then comfortably chased the target, going 215-5 with 64 balls to spare.
After Sparks opted to strike, only Eve Jones (91, 128 balls) imposed a drive on a tight collective bowling effort by the visitors. Emma Marlow led the way with 2-37 while there was one wicket apiece for Rachel Slater, Leigh Kasparek and Linsey Smith.
Diamonds then organized the chase to perfection around two decisive partnerships.
Openers Laura Winfield-Hill (50) and Smith added 74 from 15 overs and third pair wickets Hollie Armitage (60 from 63 balls) and Sterre Kalis (46) had 108 from 18.
Jones dominated the Sparks’ innings, but support for her from the rest of the top order was fleeting. Stephanie Butler, Thea Brookes and Ami Campbell all hit double numbers but failed to reach 20 as the Diamonds’ disciplined bowling came down to batting.
Jones was closing in on a well-deserved century when she was smartly perplexed by Winfield-Hill off Kasperek and it was left to Abigail Freeborn (48 not out) to lift the total over 200. The innings only contained only 12 fours and no sixes.
Sparks’ total seemed to be around 20 or 30 lights and so it turned out after Winfield-Hill and Smith gave Diamonds exactly the platform they needed.
Leg-turning Hannah Baker retired both openers, but Armitage and Kalis settled all the Diamonds’ nerves with another solid position.
Grace Potts came on offense to catch Kalis and trap Pheobe Turner lbw but the double hit came too late for the Sparks who had to digest their second loss in three games to Rachael Heyhoe Flint.
Afterwards, Diamonds captain Hollie Armitage was understandably thrilled.
“We’re really pleased with this performance,” Armitage said.
“Today was a tough day with the weather, but it was a really clinical performance from the girls.
“Our openings set the tone and from there we really grew and I’m delighted we won three of the three.
“I think today just proved the change we’ve made in our roster.
“It was tough with a big limit and the heat, but people were doing the hard yards and chasing the ball to limit them to a total under 250.
“Everyone contributed today and we are happy with the win and a bonus point.
“Our target now is to go to the final with all the wins on the board. We’ll take each game as we go, but we want to win this competition.”