The Victorian Open Men’s Softball Team will be looking to take the ACT by storm, when the 2019 National Championships get underway tomorrow at Hawker International Softball Centre.
It will be the 36thtime the event has taken place, with teams from the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia battling it out to take home the John Reid Shield.
The Victorian will open their account with two matches on the opening day with the first match set to take place at 4pm against Queensland, followed by a 6:30pm encounter against Western Australia.
Team Coach Nigel Aiken believes the team is well prepared for the tournament and is expecting to be playing in finals at the end of the week.
“The preparation has been really good – the guys have been training really hard with some intense training sessions,” he said.
“After a pretty dismal year last year, we’d love to make our way into the finals and to make the grand final would definitely be an obvious target.
“It’s a tough gig because there a lot of accomplished teams as part of the competition but we are hopeful we can be there at the end.”
Aiken is buoyed by the fact that a number of high profile players have come back into the team that were missing in 2018 and said they are heading to the tournament with a great squad.
“Last year four of our top players had taken the year off due to injury or having things on their plate at that time, but we have those four back and have a full compliment this year of our local pitchers so we are pretty happy with the squad this year.
“Last year we were batting one to six or one to seven – pretty steadily, but this year we are batting one to 12 or 13 and they are all pretty competent so we should see lots of runs this year.
“I have a good feeling about the squad but you’re never confident because there are so many variables throughout the week – injuries, umpires calls and you need everything to go your way to make a final.
“It’s a long week and if a couple of things don’t fall into place at the wrong time well then it’s game over pretty much.”
With a talent-laden squad, Aiken gave a hint as to who the players will be to look out for throughout the tournament.
“Ryan Sinclair is back after having the season off last year – he is back and looking pretty dangerous at the moment.
“Lewis Weldon again is hitting the ball really hard and we also have Joel Goodall who was our number one pitcher the last couple of years – but he took the year off last year and now he’s back.
“Sam Kassianou who is an ex junior Steeler – he’s back with us this year so our depth is so much better which really is a good thing.“
The 2019 Open Men’s State Team is as follows:
- Jayden Bamford
- Anthony Batrich
- Alex Chapman
- Steven Dawson
- Joel Goodall
- Jon Hudson
- Sam Kassianou
- Jason Kriehn
- Todd Kriehn
- George Psimaris
- Glen Rigg
- Ryan Shannahan
- Ryan Sinclair
- Lewis Weldon
You can keep up-to-date with all the results, schedules, reports and standings from the tournament HERE.