GBA looks to emerging stars
SENIOR WINTER CHAMPIONSHIP 2019
3 June 2019
Delivered by Victorian Provincial Baseball League before unification under the Baseball Victoria banner in 2009, the prestigious Senior Winter Championship – with a history dating back eighty years - will again be held at Geelong Baseball Centre over Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
The first of five winter championships to be organised by Baseball Victoria over coming months, the senior tournament will again attract many of the very best players from regional winter leagues and powerhouse Melbourne associations.
Seeking to atone for its narrow loss to Ringwood in last year’s Division One final, the Geelong representative side will again be led by Bellarine Manager Lewis Weldon, who is expecting big things from a squad built around youthful exuberance counter-balanced with playing experience at high levels.
The sixteen-man GBA squad (listed below) is genuinely representative of the six Geelong A Grade clubs, with five players from Bellarine, five from a resurgent Saints, three from Guild Lions and one each from Lara, Ballarat Royals and Deakin.
Expected to play a lead role both behind the dish and with the bat, Manager Lewis Weldon has a number of quality pitching options at his disposal, including youngsters Hayden Peoples and Connor Hughes along with Emerson Rickard, Patrick Brackley, Dan Anson and Matt Sage – as well as middle infielder Mitch Collins, who may be asked to chew up some innings.
And of course there is the addition of rangy East Belmont Saints import Cody Anderson, who has been ultra-impressive on the hill over the past few club games with Saints - including a stellar complete-game outing against the Royals last Saturday.
A graduate of Washington State University, Anderson spent two seasons with the Cougars – starting in twenty-two games for a 6-11 win loss record against tough college competition.
“Cody is definitely one of the GBA players to watch,” Lewis Weldon said this week. “But there are plenty of others – like Brock Wells, Kobe Greenhalgh and Keenan Spence – who I expect to be really important for us.”
Key drivers in offence will include Weldon himself, Greenhalgh, Spence, Brackley, Tyler Luther-Wilson, George Polley, Lachlan Stott and the seemingly ageless Troy Snarey, who will add a dimension of big-game experience against seasoned tournament opponents.
At the time of writing this preview, Baseball Victoria had not yet published squads or a tournament draw, although it is fair to suppose that Geelong will again be pitted against quality opponents that may include reigning titleholder Ringwood, Dandenong, City West and Diamond Valley – the last a notable absentee from the tournament for several years.
Preliminary games will be of two-hours duration, with finals scheduled to start at 12.00 PM on the Monday. It is expected that the tournament will include provision for winners in both Division One and Division Two.
A feature of the Saturday schedule will be a Home Run Derby starting at 7.00 PM on the main diamond. For the more senior baseball aficionados among us, the Home Run Derby may stir memories of bygone days at the championship – when “field games” were a regular and much-anticipated feature of the weekend.
GBA SQUAD: Lewis Weldon, Brock Wells, Matt Sage, Patrick Brackley, Lachlan Stott (all Bellarine), Cody Anderson, Emerson Rickard, Keenan Spence, Connor Hughes, George Polley (all Saints), Hayden Peoples, Tyler Luther-Wilson, Troy Snarey (all Guild), Kobe Greenhalgh (Deakin), Mitch Collins (Royals), Dan Anson (Lara).
As those who have been around winter baseball for a while can attest, the Senior Winter Championship – or the Provincial Carnival as it used to be affectionately known – has altered significantly in dynamic over the past thirty years, especially since summer baseball has taken on a greater focus for many people.
However - as always - the Senior Winter Championship provides opportunities for regional and metropolitan baseballers to partake of the rare opportunity to play representative baseball against their peers at elite level – in this case at the best complex in the country.
While disappointment has been expressed over the withdrawal of Mount Gambier and Dandenong Under 23, Diamond Valley is welcomed back to the fold as an entity that historically represented powerhouse clubs in in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
The entry of eight senior teams from Melbourne metropolitan and regional associations across Victoria reflects very well on the strength of winter baseball and its capacity to generate a high-quality sporting event for an elite playing group.
Again scheduled at the magnificent Geelong Baseball Centre – home to the Geelong/Korea Australian Baseball League club - the championship invariably balances intense onfield competition with enthusiastic social engagement and the opportunity to catch up with old baseball mates over what is always a memorable baseball weekend.
Dandenong, Geelong and Bendigo were three of the founding associations when the Carnival was first played, in 1938 - under the auspices of Victorian Provincial Baseball League. The fourth was Ballarat, a notable absentee at the tournament for several years now.
Other long-term supporters of the Winter Championship in City West (formerly City, or Metro), Ringwood, Latrobe Valley, Northeast, Sunraysia and Diamond Valley have a history of enthusiastic involvement in the series dating back many years.
Launched in book form at the 2017 Senior Winter Championship, “VPBL – a rich and colourful history” is now available as a PDF file accessible via the link below. The publication provides an overview of the history and the culture that underpin the Winter Championship. NOTE: a small number of the histories may still be available in book form, free, at the 2019 championship (speak to David Rice, MWBL Administrator).
The 2019 Senior Winter Championship will be played at Geelong Baseball Centre over the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, with games starting at 11.00 AM on Saturday and Sunday, and at 9.00 AM on Monday (check times with Baseball Victoria) before finals starting at 12.00 PM.
While Baseball Victoria will provide its own updates and expert reporting, Geelong Baseball Association will aim to supply modest day-to-day coverage, along with some action images. Local supporters or followers of other regional teams are invited to provide us with news or images for inclusion in GBA coverage of the series (email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or text 0488 735297).
Your contributions will be much appreciated.
In expressing its support and our best wishes for Lewis Weldon and our playing group, Geelong Baseball Association extends all teams, all officials, volunteers and supporters its very best for what should be – will be - another outstanding State Winter Championship.
TOURNAMENT PROGRAMME (when available)
Image: Geelong Baseball Association
Image: Geelong Baseball Association