It may be the club’s first year, but Malmsbury was well represented with four players on the Bendigo team at the 2021 Under 16 State Winter Championships in Sale earlier this month.
For three of the four Malmsbury players, this marked their first-ever baseball tournament, and they thoroughly enjoyed their experience.
Royce Sharp, Tayte Cottingham and Jack Hooper are loving their first season of baseball and the chance to represent their club on the Bendigo U16 squad.
“We have done relatively well for most of us having our first seasons and tournaments. We have an environment where everyone is encouraging,” Tayte said. “My favourite thing about Bendigo Baseball is when you’re competing against another side, you’ve still got that encouragement.”
“Everyone supports each other as we just want to hit the ball and try to get some runs,” Royce added.
“It’s nice to have a weekend of fun baseball where everyone knows each other,” Jack said. “I hope to hit the ball and get a few strikeouts when I pitch.”
Fellow Malmsbury player Ryan Kinkade shared the sentiment and was excited to be back at the State Winter Championships two years after he hit a grand slam in his first tournament during the 2019 U12 event in Werribee.
Malmsbury Club president Jenny Ganim said it was a massive achievement to have players selected in the Bendigo rep side.
“We’ve been extremely proud of all our juniors this season. Our junior coach Jamie Kinkade has worked really hard with them all, which has proven in their development throughout the season,” Ganim said. “The State Champs is a terrific learning experience for the boys and we hope it helps fast track what Jamie is trying to achieve.
“We hope it won’t be too long until these lads are the strength of our senior sides. The Bendigo League has been a great support to us in our first season. We look forward to the future and endeavour to grow to compete with the established clubs at the highest level.”
Bendigo head coach Terry Smith said getting Malmsbury involved opened up Bendigo baseball to more growth, which would strengthen both juniors and seniors. Overall, they are just thrilled to be back at the State Winter Championships with new players after working hard to boost their junior numbers and get teams together.
“This is sort of a historic event for us because we got to the stage where we nearly didn’t have any juniors at all, so over the last couple of years we have been able to build it back to a level where we had four divisions this year,” Smith said. “We are happy to have strong enough junior numbers to be back in the competition.”
– Article contributed by Baseball Victoria