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2015/2016 baseball season

By David Searle*

SUCH is the growth of interest in baseball that the HSBL has five teams competing in the league for the 2015/16 season, with the Orioles being the latest addition.

Below is a preview of this season, but first let’s look at how the first round went on Sunday 15 November.

The Dragons and Eastern Athletics hit off the new season, with the former fielding a very powerful batting line-up.

By the end of three innings the Dragons led 12-1, with Kay Hong, Michael Blake and Shane Davies supplying the power, each hitting solo home runs.

Aaron Mann made his return to the Athletics’ side a memorable one, as he hit a towering two run homer. This was part of a seven run fifth innings, which saw his team draw to within five runs. This was as close as the Athletics would get, as the Dragons ran out winners, 15-9.

The afternoon game saw the reigning premiers, the Northern White Sox, take on the Hotel Soho Hobart Blue Jays.

The White Sox got off to a flyer, scoring four runs in the top of the first innings.

Not to be outdone, the Blue Jays responded with seven runs in the bottom of the first and the Sox were never really in the hunt thereafter, eventually losing 15-7.

For the Jays, Steven Harris had two hits from three at bats and Roly Trustum had two from two, while the other Jays’ highlight was the outfield catching by Evan Toms.

For the Sox, Chris Cooper, Matt Drumm, Matt Fox, David Humphries and Grant Stump each had two hits.

Northern White Sox (reigning premiers):

In: Terese Millhouse.

Out: Chris Chalker (Orioles); Andrew Kennedy (Orioles); Sory Samake; Alex Naylor; Shaun Newbon; David He.

The Sox have been hit hard by the off-season departures of Chalker and Kennedy to the Orioles and by serious injuries to Matt Cashman and Paul McIntyre.

Their batting should still be competitive, but with Cashman out for an extended period, their pitching takes a hit.

Terese Millhouse, who is the first woman to compete in the HSBL, has performed well and with a lot of enthusiasm in the pre-season. She will be a handy inclusion to the team.

The addition of any new players in the coming weeks could be pivotal to their chances this season.

Dragons (runners-up, minor premiers):

In: Tim Holland (South Australia); Charlie Cho; Ross Peters (Canada).

Out: Phil Swift; Jared Rush (Orioles); Jason Featherstone (Orioles).

The Dragons will be extremely hard to beat this season.

The addition of Tim Holland not only gives them that desperately needed pitcher to work in tandem with reigning league MVP Brendan Adams, but also adds another very powerful bat to an already powerful batting line up.

Kay Hong returns to add his bat to the line-up and first year player Ross Peters has shown he will be a more than handy addition.

The consistent availability of players will be pivotal for the Dragons.

Eastern Athletics:

In: Jan Menzies; Nicolas Cabrera (Argentina); Chris Morrison (Geelong); Sam Morrison (Geelong); Allan Haw.

Out: Jonathon Castro; David Bailey; Stuart Robins (Orioles).

The Athletics could be the dark horse for this year’s title, as they have secured experienced players in Cabrera and the Morrisons.

With Sam having pitched at A-reserve in Geelong and Cabrera in the Argentine league, they will form a formidable pitching line-up when teamed up with Sully and Hamish Maitland – last season’s “Rookie of the Year”.

Jan Menzies has shown she knows how to handle the bat and her speed on the base-paths will be an asset.

The losses of Bailey and Robins will hurt, but the possible New Year returns of Robbie Devine and Steve Lovegrove from injury will be a major bonus for the green and gold.

Hotel Soho Hobart Blue Jays:

In: Lloyd Budgen; Shane Stanfield (QLD).

Out: Brendan and David Wenban.

Stanfield played for the Brisbane Bandits several seasons ago, so his experience will be immense for the Jays who retain basically the same squad as last season.

Zac Shutt’s return to full health could prove crucial for the Jays, as he gives them another pitcher who can pitch a few innings.

Veterans Hubble, Harris, Millington and Hegarty will again lead the Jays, but with a season under the belt of the 2014/15 first year players and the outfield catching of Evan Toms, you can expect them to be thereabouts come finals.

Orioles:

In: Chris Chalker (Sox); Andrew Kennedy (Sox); Jared Rush (Dragons); Jason Featherstone (Dragons); Shane Bromfield (NSW); Stuart Robins (Athletics); Linton Burgess (retirement), everyone else.

A young, enthusiastic team under the tutelage of Chalker, Featherstone, Bromfield and Burgess will sorely test some of the established teams.

Chalker does not know the meaning of defeat and will expertly guide and encourage his teammates.

The presence of Bromfield and Burgess will add established talent to the line-up and the enthusiasm of the first year players will take them a long way, so underestimate them at your own peril.

Prediction:

Premiers: Dragons. Runners up: Eastern Athletics

 

Summer baseball league hits a home run

THE last few weeks have been huge for the Hobart Summer Baseball League (HSBL) following a visit from the Wollongong-based Northern Pirates (NSW) and an inaugural celebrity baseball game at the end of October.

The first two games against the Pirates were split, with HSBL winning a highly entertaining game 13-8, only to have the Pirates gain their revenge in the afternoon with a comprehensive victory.

The “rubber” game was held on Sunday afternoon and despite fielding its strongest side available, the HSBL Allstars were no match for the Pirates, going down 17-2.

Thank you very much to the Northern Pirates president Al Michaelis and his team for visiting – a fun weekend was had by all and we look forward to future visits, both in Tasmania and in Wollongong.

Prior to the Allstars game, the first HSBL Celebrity game pitted Sully’s Saints, captained by Scott Bacon MP, against the Chalky’s Angels, captained by Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnson.

It proved to be an exciting game of big hitting, interesting base running styles, vocal players and lots of laughter, eventually ending in a thrilling 14-14 tie.

A big thank you to all the celebrities who competed, especially to Sully and Chris Chalker who organised the weekend.

The long and tireless work of Zac Shutt, Chris Morrison, John Langenberg and Naomi Searle must also be praised.

Before the start of the 2015/16 season, the league secured additional sponsorship with its first gold sponsor in Raine and Horne Hobart Real Estate and our first silver sponsor in Fish Focus Consulting – we thank these businesses for their support.

*David Searle is the president of Baseball Tasmania

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