GBA Season Preview 2018
2 April 2018
A total of 35 teams has again entered for the GBA senior winter season, which will open with A Grade doubleheaders at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday 7 April before all grades commence their campaign the following Saturday.
Five senior grades will be in operation, with eight in A Grade, seven in A Reserve, eight in B Grade and six in both B Reserve and C Grade.
East Belmont Saints top the senior team listing with six, while Guild, Deakin, Lara and Bellarine will field four, Mounties and Colac three apiece, Newport and Corio both two. The Bellarine C Grade entry is a women’s team. Alfredton is down to one side, along with Bacchus Marsh and new entry Sunshine – which will play in B Grade.
A Grade will comprise eight teams in a twenty-one game season that sees each club play the others three times, while all other grades are scheduled for a nineteen-week season.
The addition of Newport and Colac adds real interest to A Grade, where GUILD – again managed by Jason Peoples – is expected to again be very strong as it shoots for back-to-back titles and its seventh in eight years. The Lions will have the task ahead, however, going on some of the recruitment chat emanating from around the traps.
Runner-up last year in an extra-innings thriller that showcased the very best of winter baseball, BELLARINE will suit up another powerful outfit under the leadership of Cameron Brown. The 2017 squad remains largely intact, with prospect Lachlan Hockey a year older and a massive recruit from Melbourne Winter League a likely coup for the club.
Under returning Manager Charles Thompson, EAST BELMONT SAINTS will be looking for an improved showing on last year’s fifth placing, with its destiny very much riding on the arms of power rightie Tayler Rowe and club stalwart Josh Lee – with back-up expected from Sean Talbot and the younger brigade at Pioneer Park.
Placed third in 2017, LARA has been working hard behind the scenes to cover the losses of Aaron Green, Justin Charles and Jared Berman, who are all believed to be crossing to Newport – while up and coming catcher George Polley is likely to be unavailable. The losses present a significant to challenge to Ross Wilson and the club, although the Wildcats have just kept coming back when they appeared on the wane in recent years. They will certainly benefit from the experience of Jason Landthaler, while the Arandt twins are expected to commit for the season.
Finishing sixth last year but with a couple of memorable wins among some not so flash performances, MOUNTIES YC will come back refreshed under Manager Matt Jones – with most of its players having had a break over summer and a projected amalgamation with Ballarat City summer potentially beefing up the playing list.
Bundled out in the 2017 Semi-Final after a long-awaited title twelve months earlier, DEAKIN – under incoming Manager Andrew Brady - will welcome Hiroshi Narasaki back after some time in Melbourne Winter League, although the club will battle to cover the loss of Rudy Jaramillo, who is expected to have a season off after his brilliant Baycats summer. Another class act in Kelii Zablan is again unlikely to turn out for the Blues during winter.
Reigning B Grade champion COLAC BRAVES have again made the step up to A Grade – for the first time since 2005, their only other appearance at this level. While it will be a challenge, the Braves will be well managed by Josh Hay and his associates and they will be looking to solid seasons from the likes of Kurt Wilson, Michael Reid and Brendan Lorenzo as the club continues with its admirable work in engaging youngsters in the sport.
Competitive enough in a smallish B Grade field last time, NEWPORT appears to have made a quantum leap by challenging itself at A Grade level, although this proud summer club would not be doing so unless it gave itself a real chance. With Aaron Green appointed as Head Coach, the Rams have also picked up Jared Berman and Justin Charles from Lara, while young guns in Reece Longstaff and Keenan Spence head some emerging club talent that will surely benefit from the presence of Dean Marnell, David Asp and other former top-liners mentioned in despatches.
Geelong Baseball Association A Grade season will commence with doubleheaders played on Saturday 7 April, starting at 12.00 PM. All eight games will be of two hours duration.
All senior grades will be in action from Saturday 14 April, while junior details will be posted as they become available.
As mentioned elsewhere in these pages, we will endeavour to again provide timely reporting of scores and match details on both the website and Facebook – ideally during Saturday evening. Aside from what is required from A Grade, clubs are encouraged to provide items of interest from any grade – in terms of news, milestones, special achievements, fund-raising or club functions.
Best wishes to all players, and all clubs, for a rewarding season of winter baseball!