Visiting Patriots a hit at Oval
QUEENSLAND open men's team, the Patriots, proved a smash hit as guests of Bundaberg Softball Association at Frank Coulthard Oval on Saturday.
The top players ran coaching clinics for about 80 association juniors before turning it on in a match against a youthful Bundaberg men's team, winning 13-1.
Patriots coach Murray Rivers said it was a great exercise on the first-stop of a mini tour that will include Toowoomba, Redlands, Ipswich and Brisbane.
"We left four or five hitters at home because they had work commitments, but we brought nine boys and after a four-hour drive and a four-hour clinic, to play made it a big day," Rivers said.
"Guy Covacin hit two home runs for us and Andy Blackshaw, an Australian pitcher, did what he had to and it was the first step in our preparation for the nationals in February. We lost the grand final last year but we got three Australian players selected last year in the mix and our goal is to make the grand final again and go one better."
Bundaberg's sole run did not come until the dying minutes with Anthony Doyle making a great hit to the outfield to bring Queensland under-19 and under-17 representative Tyrell Priestley home from second base.
But as a team, they produced some other magical moments, including Australian U-17 representative Adrian Taylor striking out Blackshaw, Paul Steele taking a superb high catch, and Priestley taking a juggled catch from a bullet-like straight hit.
Bundaberg coach Natalie Thompson said: "For the boys to come up against the Queensland Patriots, which are an awesome side, was brilliant and they showed their skills, not necessarily at the same level at the moment, but one day, they will be there," Thompson said.
"Anthony and Paul are 30 years-plus, Stuart Gessling is 25 but the rest of them are under 19 and most of them have been to state and Colton Brockhurst and Sam Field have also been to Australian carnivals."
Two local A-Grade women's matches preceded the big game. Brothers United showed no mercy against South Sluggers in a 22-0 whitewash while reigning premiers West Panthers toughed out an 8-4 victory over Waves.