BROTHERS IN ARMS: Carroll brothers Hayden, 17, and Anthony, 19, will team up as part of the Sunraysia Baseball League’s State Championship squad. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
YOUTH will look to lead the way for Sunraysia at the Baseball Victoria State Championships this long weekend.
After a few lean years, the guys in green and gold are hoping to make an impact against other regional representative teams from around the State in Geelong.
Earlier this decade Sunraysia managed three consecutive titles.
Coach Luke Gathercole said the squad has a good mix of youth and experience, and he would be encouraging them to play aggressive baseball.
“In rep teams you don’t have those few months to build up to games like with home teams,” he said. “You can either be hot or cold and that goes across most of the carnival.
“They don’t need to worry about making mistakes, they can feel free to play aggressive baseball. That will be my message.
“We’re not an old squad, but we have a number of guys in their late 20s who have been to 10 or so carnivals now, and a number of younger players who are in their first, second or third carnival.
“Traditionally we’ve taken a slightly older team to championships but I think the younger players will really benefit. They’re quick, they throw hard and they don’t have a lot of fear.
“I’ll be encouraging them to do what they feel they need to. If they want to go after it and be aggressive they can, they won’t get in trouble from me.”
Gathercole said the depth of the pitching group would play an important role if they are to get wins on the board.
“Anthony Carroll has just returned from playing College ball in the US a few weeks ago. He’s the best pitcher in our competition and we’ll be looking to him to lead from the mound. He’s young, throws hard and can really trouble the batters,” he said.
“Troy Harrison is a guy from Adelaide we have come across and plays for us each year. He’ll be important on the mound as well.
“Outside of the pitchers, Matt Gee has been laid low in the past couple of years with a shoulder injury but he’s been hitting the ball really well.
“Taylor Pay, Scott Knudsen, Matt Austin, Matt Wren, Jordan Fleri and Jordan Gray are other guys who have been in good form of late too.”
Carroll, 19, who will play alongside his brother Hayden, 17, was confident the Sunraysia side would perform well.
“We should have a pretty good team this year,” Anthony said.
“We’re looking forward to it. It will be my fourth time away. It’s usually pretty cold in Geelong so we’ll have to prepare for that.”
Gathercole said there were more benefits to performing well at the State Championships than just potentially winning the title.
“Because we’re so far away from Melbourne, if we can put on a good performance we can remind them we’re here and that there are some talented baseballers in the north of the State. Performing well will definitely have a lot more credibility when it comes to State selections later in the year,” he said.
“Players who go away do learn that there will be times when they do need to find an extra gear against strong opponents. Hopefully they can learn from that and bring that back with them to Sunraysia.”