Victorian Sam Reale has taken a major step in his burgeoning softball career with selection in the 2017 Junior Steelers squad.
The 17-year-old was named in the 30-man squad following his impressive performances in the 2017 Under 19 National Softball Championships in Redlands, Queensland last month, which saw him selected as the sole Victorian representative in the All-Tournament Team.
The Junior Steelers squad will come together for a week-long program, which will include a development training camp and the Softball Australia International Friendship Series, at Redlands from June 30 to July 7.
For this group of talented players, there will also be one eye on next year’s WBSC Junior Men’s World Championship, which will be held at Prince Albert in Canada, from 7-15 July 2018. Australia has a rich history at this event, being crowned world champions at four consecutive editions – in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2008.
Despite the All-Tournament Team acknowledgement, Reale said his selection in the Junior Steelers squad still came as a surprise.
“I was very excited and shocked to have my name called out (at the end of the tournament),” Reale said.
“Getting picked is just phenomenal.”
Reale’s efforts in the tournament was a major factor in the Victorian team’s late resurgence. After winning just one game from their first six, the Vics found their groove in the second half of the Nationals to finish in the third versus fourth play-off against ACT.
Although the Vics were to go down 7-2 in the play-off game, the City Raiders and Werribee Red Sox product said there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament both individually and from a team point of view.
“I thought the Under 19 tournament was pretty awesome and it was great ball to play,” Reale said.
“Personally, I thought I played pretty well – I thought my batting and fielding was pretty good, and I was happy with the team effort even though we came fourth. I thought the team effort was fabulous and the atmosphere around the team was awesome.
“It’s what we were aiming for towards the end – at least for the people who are leaving the Under 19s. It was like, ‘lets put all our effort into these last few games, finish on a high and send them off with a good end to the tournament’.”
A specialist outfielder, Reale said he would be going back to basics to ensure he was ready to go for the mid-year development camp.
“My training will involve asking some of my previous coaches to come down to Werribee to hit me some ground balls and some fly balls, and get some extra pointers until the squad is put together,” Reale said.
“From there I will just keep going with what I can do.”
To see the full Junior Steelers squad, click here.