The Junior Steelers will find themselves in a state-of-the-art facility when they venture to Canada for the XII WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in July.
Fourteen countries will battle it out over nine days from July 7. The game schedule has yet to be finalised, but the other teams competing are Canada, Japan, USA, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, India, Denmark, South Africa, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Venezuela and Guatemala.
The event will be held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, at a venue that has recently undergone a $2 million upgrade and now features four diamonds, three of them with lights.
“We are very excited about using this newly upgraded facility for the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship,” Softball Canada President Kevin Quinn says.
“The host committee has done a terrific job on both the facility and the organisational aspects of the Championship. It will be a great event.”
Junior Steelers Head Coach Laing Harrow is another who is excited about the event and venue. “They’ve spent a lot of money making it a good facility, so I’m looking forward to seeing it for the first time,” Harrow says.
Having finalised the names of the 17 players travelling to Prince Albert, Harrow’s next mission is to arrange the team’s pre-tournament schedule. For this task, he has the benefit of experience and plans to take the team to Milverton, Ontario, for warm-up games.
“We’re following in the footsteps of what we did two years ago with the junior team in Milverton and with the Steelers last year,” Harrow says.
“It was quite successful then. We get fantastic support from the Milverton people and we’re going to play some games against very good teams there.”
Harrow believes experience will be a key factor in his team’s success in Prince Albert. Blake Jackson, Shaun Lanaghan, Michael Ludkin and Jett Wright played for the Junior Steelers at the 2016 World Championship in Midland, Michigan, where they finished sixth.
“We have four returning players from the last worlds, and their experience is going to help us this time around,” Harrow says.
“It makes a huge difference having guys with international experience. They know the routines, they’re familiar with the coaching staff, which I think is a big bonus. They’ll be able to lead by example and help the new players.”
Japan are the reigning world champions after their thrilling 2-1 victory over New Zealand in the 2016 final.
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)|
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
Those players in the squad of 30 but not in the final team of 17 will be considered as non-travelling reserves.