Northern Diamonds 334 for 6 (Armitage 131, Winfield-Hill 74, Heath 70) beat Western Storm 230 (Gibson 76, Smale 59, Levick 4-41) by 104 runs
Hollie Armitage registered her first professional hundred as Northern Diamonds beat Western Storm by 104 runs to secure their place in the knockout stages of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy on a record-breaking day at the Cooper Associates Ground in Taunton.
Diamonds won the toss, elected to bat first and ran up a mammoth competition-best total of 334 for 6, eclipsing the previous record score of 224 for 7 achieved by South East Stars against Sunrisers at Chelmsford in May 2021.
England international Winfield-Hill contributed a fluent 74 from 77 balls, while Heath struck an eye-catching 70 from just 46 balls as Diamonds surpassed their previous highest 50-over score of 294, made against Thunder at Chester-le-Street in September last year.
It was a chastening experience for Storm's bowlers, only offspinner Chloe Skelton, who claimed 2 for 39 from 10 overs, emerging with any real credit on a day when bat dominated ball.
There was no sign of the onslaught to come when Smith clipped Claire Nicholas meekly to short third man and departed for a duck in the second over. But Winfield-Hill and Armitage quickly set about putting the record straight, their partnership yielding 50 from 48 balls as Diamonds posted 56 during the opening 10-over powerplay. Scoring freely either side of the wicket, Winfield-Hill raised 50 from 56 balls, pulled Lauren Filer for four to bring up the hundred partnership and looked set to realise three figures when she inadvertently holed out to long-on off the bowling of Skelton in the 23rd over, having helped herself to nine fours.
Hitherto cast in the role of chief support, Armitage went to 50 via 69 balls, while Sterre Kalis and Leah Dobson came and went in quick succession at the other end as Storm worked hard to restrict the scoring and maintain a foothold in the game.
But that all changed with the advent of Heath with the score at 169 for 4 in the 33rd over. Going on the attack from the outset, the 21-year-old from Chesterfield combined finesse with raw power to help almost double the score during a blistering 14-over sojourn which left Storm on their knees. Heath and Armitage added 50 from 31 balls as the home side came under sustained pressure, Skelton the only bowler to avoid a mauling.
Once again playing second fiddle to a faster-scoring partner, Armitage went to a maiden hundred for Diamonds from 110 balls, while the century partnership occupied 66 deliveries, Heath finding the boundary with impressive regularity as Diamonds surpassed their previous highest score in the 50-over competition.
Driving and pulling with intent, Heath had a century firmly in her sights when she drilled the ball straight to Nicholas at short fine leg in pursuit of a ninth boundary, permitting Lauren Filer a much-needed success. Thereafter, Armitage and Lizzie Scott combined forces at the death to usher Diamonds to a record-breaking total.
Required to hit the ground running if they were to have any chance of discomfiting their opponents, Storm instead lost Alice Griffiths and talismanic captain Sophie Luff inside nine overs as the powerplay failed to ignite. When Fran Wilson drove Smith to cover in the twelfth over, the home side were 37 for 3 and in danger of running up the white flag.
Levick then struck twice in as many overs with her leg-breaks to remove Nat Wraith for 19 and Emma Corney for 29, the latter at least making a decent fist of opening the batting for the first time at Taunton. But there was no way back from 80 for 5 and, an entertaining interlude in which Gibson and Smale added 106 for the sixth wicket apart, Yorkshire grit continued to hold sway.
Gibson matched fire with fire and provided the home crowd with something to cheer in a knock that was illuminated by 9 fours and a six until, having garnered 76 from 59 balls, she hit Armitage to cover. Smale's brave rearguard action yielded a 59-ball 50, but it proved no more than a silver lining.