GBA Season Preview 2019
2 April 2019
It has been an especially busy several months for baseball in the Geelong region, with the adoption of the Waurn Ponds complex as home base for the Geelong/Korea Australian Baseball League squad and the completion of another summer campaign for the Baycats – who enjoyed an outstanding season in earning the Summer League Club Championship while coming up just short of another Division One pennant.
Already with little time to catch their collective breath, committed local personnel engaged in the sport all-year round – and there are plenty of them – are already in planning mode for another busy year that will include Senior League, Intermediate League and Junior League Championships in early April and the State Senior Winter Championship over Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Aside from an already crowded tournament schedule over coming months, there is of course the all-important matter of the Geelong Baseball Association domestic club competition that starts on Saturday 6 April - with doubleheaders in A Grade that day before single games on Saturday 13 April prior to the Easter break.
A Grade will resume on Saturday 27 April, when all other senior grades and juniors will commence their winter seasons.
While welcoming our regular clubs back into the fold, Geelong Baseball Association Board extends a special greeting to new entry North West Titans and to Ballarat Royals – an entity arising from an off-season merger of the Ballarat City Brewers and Mounties Youth Centre baseball clubs both intent on ensuring the long-term viability of baseball in the Begonia City.
Although A Grade and A Reserve have through circumstance been reduced to six teams each, there has been a pleasing overall increase in numbers, with thirty-seven senior team entries – up from thirty-five last year. B Grade will be an eight-team competition and B Reserve nine, while the eight teams in C Grade will again include a Bellarine women’s team that will be looking to further playing development – and enjoyment – after its debut in 2018.
Saints will be the most highly represented senior club - with six teams playing out of Pioneer Park - while Guild will field five, Deakin four, Ballarat Royals four and Bellarine four. Colac and Lara have entered three teams, Corio two and Newport two, while Alfredton, Sunshine, Bacchus Marsh and North West Titans (the latter based at McPherson Park, Melton) will each have one team.
Guild posted its twenty-fourth A GRADE title in 2018 – with a thumping win over Newport – and the Lions will surely be aiming under returning manager Jason Peoples to extend their extraordinary run of success in recent times. A serious threat over the past several seasons, Bellarine – under the tutelage of Lewis Weldon - will again be in search of the A Grade flag that has eluded the club since 1995, while Charles Thompson will be expecting a solid season from his relatively youthful Saints squad. A finalist last year, Deakin is bound to be ultra-competitive under the management of Leigh Holmes, who will be looking to replicate the club’s A Grade title of 2016. Off the pace last year and conceding far more runs than it would have liked, Lara will again be led by Ross Wilson – who figures among an experienced playing group that should never be underestimated. Opening its campaign at home under former Mounties head honcho Matt Jones, Ballarat Royals will be a colourful and distinctly interesting unit that has been building momentum while drawing good numbers to training thus far.
Although there were other clubs expressing interest in playing A RESERVE – with both Newport and Colac dropping back from the highest level – numbers were held at six for draw, scheduling and re-entry purposes. Of this year’s entries, Bellarine will be looking to defend the title from 2018 – its first ever at this level – while Guild is expected to be tough to beat, especially given that its personnel are no longer split into two teams. Deakin and Saints were around the money for most of last season, while Lara is expected to improve and Royals will almost certainly be a far tougher proposition than their Mounties equivalent in 2018.
Already shaping as a strong competition – with eight teams compared with five last year - B GRADE will see Sunshine Eagles in search of consecutive flags, although the club is bound to be tested by the likes of a youthful Newport outfit guided by club stalwart Shane Comben, Alfredton (last year’s runner-up), Corio, Guild Cubs, Colac, Bacchus Marsh and Saints.
Saints will field two squads in B RESERVE – one of those likely to be a veteran’s side in a nine-team competition that will include Guild, Ballarat Royals, Colac, Corio, Deakin, Newport and Bellarine. While Corio went through last season undefeated at this level, the situation may be somewhat different this time around with the club’s first nine being promoted to B Grade..
Winner in 2018, Guild will face off against seven other clubs in a fascinating C GRADE field that includes Ballarat Royals (several of whose squad played off with Mounties in last year’s Grand Final), Saints, Bellarine, Colac, Lara, Deakin and new entry North West Titans – an unknown quantity that has competed in Baseball Victoria Summer League over the past several seasons.
Best wishes to all players and to all competing clubs for an enjoyable and fruitful winter season!
Finally, a few reminders for club officials……
Geelong Baseball Association will again strive to provide timely and informative reporting of league activities during the season – including regular updates to the association website and Facebook, along hopefully with weekly coverage by Geelong Advertiser and other local media. To assist us in maintaining that service at a high level, we ask that clubs and individuals help out as follows.
Scores in all senior grades should be notified as soon as possible after completion of games (text 0488 735297, email firstname.lastname@example.org). A Grade Match reports and/or photos of scorebook should be forwarded after games (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) so that reports can be prepared promptly. A Grade Match Reports and Other Grade Match Reports should also be sent to Glynis Murfitt (Registrar) as soon as possible (IE within 48 hours to avoid fines).
With your help, we will again be aiming to have all scores and ladders posted by late Saturday night (or Sunday where applicable), along with A Grade reports, images and statistics.
As always, club people are invited to contribute photographs, news or other items of GBA interest for inclusion on the website and/or on the league FACEBOOK pages.
We are aware that the league currently has two Facebook pages, which may have caused some confusion. While we get this matter sorted, you are encouraged to engage on the Public page (see link above). For the clubs who already have their own Facebook pages, Team App, Instagram or other online vehicles, please continue your great work in keeping the lines of communication open.
The GBA website, its content and our social media are owned by member clubs, whose input is most appreciated. Feel free to contribute in any positive manner to improving our service.
Finally, association and club contacts have recently been updated on the association website (under the GBA tab). Please let us know of any changes or additions that need to be made.