Aussie Steelers put faith in young talent

Aussie Steelers put faith in young talent

Seven players will be making their senior world championship debuts when the Aussie Steelers travel to Canada for the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship this year.

Australian selectors have chosen a mix of youth and experience in the team for the World Championship, which will be held in the remote Canadian city of Whitehorse, Yukon, in July.

2017 Aussie Steelers Team (click here for player and team staff profiles)

Jarryd Farrell, SA Joshua McGovern, ACT Harrison Peters, NSW
Adam Folkard, ACT Hayden Mathews, NSW Nick Shailes, O/S
Shaun Goffer, Qld Ryan Merriman, Qld Ryan Sinclair, Vic
Mark Harris, WA Nick Norton, ACT James Todhunter, NSW
Julian Jemmott, Qld Brendon O’Byrne, WA Lewis Weldon, Vic
Andrew Kirkpatrick, ACT Liam O’Leary, NSW

 

Jarryd Farrell, Hayden Mathews, Joshua McGovern, Ryan Merriman, Brendon O’Byrne, Liam O’Leary and Lewis Weldon are all newcomers to the team, but Head Coach Laing Harrow does not expect the debutants to be overawed by the occasion.

Andrew Kirkpatrick

Andrew Kirkpatrick adds experience to the Aussie Steelers.

“They went to the Challenge Cup in Auckland and handled themselves well against quality opposition like New Zealand and Argentina,” Harrow says. “That experience was massive for us and will do them the world of good. It won’t be as daunting when they face those teams in Whitehorse.”

Harrow believes the newcomers will benefit from the guidance of experienced players such as Adam Folkard and Andrew Kirkpatrick, as well as Nick Shailes, originally from Lismore but who has lived in Canada in recent years.

The XV WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship will be held from July 7-16. Hosts Canada are looking to defend their world title after capturing gold in 2015, their first since 1992. New Zealand took home the silver in 2015, while Venezuela claimed the bronze.
Harrow believes the Steelers have a genuine chance of causing a major upset this year. “We are aiming to win the whole thing,” he says. “That’s what the guys are preparing for.”

“Teams like Canada, Argentina, New Zealand and Japan are going to be hard to beat, and we’ll have to be on top of our game against them.”

While the remote town of Whitehorse is not on many people’s list of travel destinations, Harrow says it is a great place to host such an event. “It’s a beautiful venue and it has worked well before when it has hosted women’s and junior men’s World Championships.”

“There are no lights at the fields because they don’t need them. At that time of year it’s light until almost midnight. The locals really get behind it and turn it into a great experience.”

To tune up for the World Championship, the Steelers will play a series of games in the more familiar surrounds of Milverton, Ontario.

“We’ll get 12 to 14 games against local teams who will provide quality competition,” Harrow says. “Hopefully we can fly under the radar and surprise a few teams in Whitehorse.”

While 2017 will be the first time Whitehorse has hosted a senior men’s event, Softball Yukon has hosted three previous world championships – the Junior Men’s World Championship in 2008 and 2014, as well as the 2012 Women’s World Championship.

The tournament format involves 103 games played over 10 days, with six games per day in a round-robin on each of the two fields at the Pepsi Softball Centre.

Twenty teams from five global regions will compete this year, with India and Turkey sending teams to the World Championship for the first time.

The competing teams are:

  • Africa (2): Botswana, South Africa
  • Americas (7): Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, United States, Venezuela
  • Asia (4): Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan
  • Europe (5): Czech Republic, Denmark, Great Britain, Israel, Turkey
  • Oceania (2): Australia, New Zealand