It may not be a full slate of games but baseball fans Australia-wide are rejoicing at the return of the ABL.
The first week of games sees the defending champion Perth Heat host the Sydney Blue Sox, while the Brisbane Bandits, who are looking for their first ever playoff appearance will host the Adelaide Bite. Here’s what our eyes on the ground in their respective cities have to say about the key to their side making a fast start to the ABL season. All times and dates listed are local.
Adelaide Bite @ Brisbane Bandits – October 30th: 6.30pm, October 31st: 6.30pm, November 1st: 6.30pm, November 2nd: 1.00pm.
Adelaide Bite (Alexander Jacobs) – For Adelaide the focus must be on their pitching. While their hitting let them down last season, their pitching often held strong. The opening round sees a mixture of experience especially with Matt Williams and Darren Fidge, while Adelaide native Wilson Lee continues to improve each year. Imports are often an unknown here but Morgan Coombs and Craig Stem look to be two of the most experienced and need to perform, while others such as Tyler Brunnemann and Will Mathis are sure to be brought in during the series. If Adelaide can restrict Brisbane’s runs then a series win should be simple, especially with the talent on the mound.
Brisbane Bandits (Alex Chisholm)-If Brisbane are going to win this series they are going to need three things:
What the Bandits really struggled to do last season was put in a consistent set of performances across the series – one game they’d be on fire, the very next game they’d be ordinary. Nilsson must make this his priority.
Sydney Blue Sox @ Perth Heat – October 31st: 7.20pm , November 1st: 4.05pm & 7.05pm , November 2nd: 4.05pm
Sydney Blue Sox (Murray Conallin) – The Sydney Blue Sox will enter the fifth season of the new Australian Baseball League with all the weapons to bring the Claxton Shield to Blacktown for the first time since 2005. Manager Jason Pospishil has assembled a strong line-up with a good mix of established Blue Sox players and imports set to deliver Sydney its 13th Claxton Shield. Since the rebirth of the ABL, Blue Sox players like Michael Lysaught, Trent D’Antonio, Craig Anderson and Todd Van Steensel have been workhorses for a side that has promised much, but failed at the final hurdle often. The Sox have added depth through imports with the Arizona Diamondbacks sending a pair of players in Tyler Bortnick (Infielder) and Alex Glenn (Outfielder) plus the Rockies sending Catcher Will Swanner. The best of the imports on paper looks to be German pitcher Marcus Solbach. Standing at 196cm, the righty from the Diamondbacks had a Kate Moss thin 0.86 ERA in Indy Ball before moving through to 19 games in Short Season Single A.
Perth Heat (Christopher Ninkov) –For the Heat there are a couple of keys to claiming their first series victory of the new season. The first of these keys is the high-powered offense of the Sydney Blue Sox going against the ever reliable Heat pitching. Warwick Saupold is back as part of the Heat’s pitching staff as is the league’s all-time wins leader Daniel Schmidt once again this season. Past that, Brian Baker returns who filled the shoes that Mike Ekstrom left when he departed back to the US during the Heat’s championship run last year. For the Heat to be victorious in this series they must contain arguably the deepest outfield consisting of Trent Oeltjen, David Kandilas and new important Alex Glenn.