Junior Steelers prepare to take on the world

Junior Steelers prepare to take on the world

The Junior Steelers will have some top-class preparation as they venture to Canada for the Junior Men’s World Championship in July.

The fifth-ranked Australians have been drawn to play 16th-ranked India in the first game of the tournament, which will be held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, from July 7-15.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation has announced the groups and a 54-game schedule for the 13 teams competing in the XII WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship.

The teams have been drawn into two groups (see above) and will begin the global battle with a round robin.

The top four nations from each group will advance to the playoffs.

Before arriving at Prince Albert, the Junior Steelers will compete in the Hill United Chiefs Invitational, a tournament in Six Nations, Ontario that features some of the world’s best men’s softball players.

The event will be a mixture of international and local teams. The Junior Steelers will be up against New Zealand’s Junior National team, plus the Bear Bottom Lodge Haymakers from USA, Toronto Batmen, Nith River Monsters and Kitchener Hallman Cubs from southern Ontario, and from Six Nations, Ontario, the Ohsweken Redmen and the host and reigning ISC World Champion Hill United Chiefs.

Junior Men's Softball World Championship.

The main diamond at Prince Albert, venue for the Junior Men’s World Championship.

Junior Steelers Head Coach Laing Harrow believes playing in the Invitational tournament will give his team the best possible chance of success in Prince Albert.

“We’ll get a minimum of four games against top-quality teams,” Harrow says. “And they guys will get a chance to see some world-class players in action.”

At the most recent WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in 2016, Japan dethroned two-time defending champions Argentina. New Zealand won the silver medal, with Australia finishing sixth.

Powerhouse teams such as  Japan, top-ranked New Zealand and second-ranked Canada will stand in the way of the Junior Steelers’ quest for a medal. “The playing groups are different every year, but you know that teams such as Canada, New Zealand, the US and Argentina will always be strong,” Harrow says.

“And a team like Mexico, you never know what to expect. Their skill level will be high. It all depends on their pitching.”

Two teams, Guatemala and Hong Kong, will be making their World Championship debuts.

“This global showcase will feature the top young under-19 men’s softball players in the world and national teams from five continents,” said WBSC Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez.

“The hosts in Prince Albert are ready to roll out an exciting world stage for these elite athletes, who will have 54 games to prove who’s the best in the world.”

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne says hosting the championship is a great opportunity for the city.

“When they say there is going to be economic spin-off for the city, I know that’s a fact, I’ve been to these events quite a bit,” said Dionne. “People come out in droves, and the people that do come, they spend money.

“We’re a small community of 40,000 and we’re going to host a world event — that’s a big plus for our community.”

2018 Australian Under 19 Men’s Team

Josh Bond (NSW) Bradley Kilpatrick (NSW) Layton Reid (Qld)
Jacob Donaldson (NSW) Ryan King (NSW) Keenan Smith (Qld)
Jarred Garland (NSW) Shaun Lanaghan (NSW) Dawson Summers (WA)
Matthew Harrow (ACT) Michael Ludkin (Qld) Jeremy Waters (Qld)
Blake Jackson (NSW) Bolton Nussbaum (ACT) Jett Wright (WA)
Riley James (Qld) Christopher Plain (NSW)

Team officials

Head Coach: Laing Harrow
Assistant Coach: Darrin Hebditch
Assistant Coach: Adam Rindfleish
Team Manager: Mike Titheradge
Video Analyst: Tony Mackie
Physiotherapist: Bernie Simai
Statistician: Jim Giles
Umpire: Trevor Murphy