The SV men’s fastpitch season gets underway this Sunday 6th December with the commencement of the 20-21 SV Men’s Fastpitch State League.
Kicking off with two tournament rounds that have become features in the Victorian men’s softball calendar, this Sunday at Knox will see five returning teams and one new challenger battle it out for premiership points.
Another full season of fastpitch is planned with the new format SV Men’s Fastpitch State League, Skins, Zieren Cup and Captain’s Challenge competitions, along with some live streamed games scheduled from January 2021 onwards.
Whilst the competition will feature the usual rivalries between Eastern Bucks, Geelong Cougars, Metrans, Southern Knights and Waverley, joining the SV Men’s Fastpitch competitions for the first time is recently crowned Softball Victoria Club of the Year, First National Hawks Fastpitch. The Kriehn brothers – Jason and Todd – will be important players in this debut season, with the Hawks also debuting a playing group of incredibly talented juniors. The likes of Jye Robinson and Noah Cooney will ensure that the Hawks are extremely competitive from the first pitch.
While the Hawks will be one to watch this season, the rest of the competition will be hunting down the reigning champions Metrans. The evergreen juggernaut of Victorian men’s softball, Metrans are relentless in their quest to stay top of the table. Metrans are starting to show off some of their new young talent in Luke Russell and Nathan Duvall, with the two young pitching prospects having a great mentor in Mark Rigg to learn from. As always watch out for the stars at the top of the hitting lineup – Ricky Wheeler, Joel Southam, Glen Rigg and Dave Edwards.
A smokey for the championship race this year will be Southern Knights. The Knights have experienced Open Men’s State Team players in Steven Dawson, John Hudson and James Brownlow on their talented roster. Sam Seach has also further established his playing credentials after having a memorable season last year, debuting for the Open Men’s State Team as well as the Junior Steelers at the WBSC World Championships. He will be one player the Knights fans should definitely keep an eye on this season. Some interstate recruits in Hayden Gillet and Matthew Sheehan will also add some firepower to the middle of the lineup.
Waverley continues to back their youth, with Cody Smith, Alex Chapman and Nathan Tidey the backbone of the lineup. Alex Chapman, the pitcher with the most innings thrown over the last two seasons, is the jewel in the crown. In addition to 19-year-old Cody Smith, a multiple time All-Star who will have a big role to play in the upcoming season. Nathan Tidey who is quickly becoming someone dangerous in the box, will also need to continue to put up big numbers if Waverley is to have their first opportunity at finals.
To round out the competitors, Cougars and Bucks will once again try to steal the title back from the reigning premiers Metrans. These two teams have won two of the last three championships between them and have some of the league’s top players. Last year’s MVP Jayden Bamford will provide a strong middle of the lineup presence and a clever head behind the plate for the Bucks. Aaron Hare and Adam Talarico – both All-Star’s last season – will provide versatility in their multiple roles, whilst Sam Kassianou is the most experienced campaigner among a group of very talented and versatile players.
Similarly, Cougars have the reigning pitching and hitting award winners in Tom Zeylemaker and George Psimaris respectively. The pair, along with last year’s All Star 1B Joel Hughes, made Cougars the dangerous side they were last season and will be back with more firepower this year to regain the title. The other major addition to the Cougars lineup will be the return of Lewis Weldon. Just hearing the name sends shivers down the spine of most pitchers who throw to him. Lewis should easily be a short priced favourite for most homeruns for the season.
The second tournament, hosted by Cougars at the new clubrooms in Geelong, will be held on Sunday, 13th December, before the usual Thursday night competition begins on 14th January.
Header image: courtesy of Change of Focus