I tell you what, either I’m getting old and tired, or maybe a weekend clogged with travel, four games of baseball and too much socialising is taking its toll. The socialising and the early drive home from the ABL series in Canberra to support our Waverley boys on this occasion left me a bit “flat” after another gallant effort failed to take the bacon. When I washed through the events of the game in my mind I couldn’t help but feel that there was no reason to write a new report because it could only sound much the same as most of my reports this season – I contemplated a “cut and paste” to save me the effort after a tough weekend, but I know that the ‘Waverley Nation’ deserves better than that!
Seriously though, how familiar do these facts sound:
- Another gallant losing effort against a vastly more seasoned opponent
- Another fine pitching effort, especially from starter Jon Kennedy, goes unrewarded
- Critical defensive errors possibly / probably cost us a better outcome
- A general inability to find the timely hits with runners in scoring position really hurt
- Strong pitching from quality opponents made our task a tough one
Perhaps making it harder to swallow on this occasion was the reality that our inexperienced lads actually took on recent Melbourne Aces’ pitcher Blake Cunningham and came through with more hits than the Cheltenham team. Of course we fully realise that this can be a misleading guide to the game and it doesn’t really mean much in the wash-up, or on the competition points table.
Over many years of travelling to the southern outskirts of Cheltenham for baseball, the weather has often been quite “variable”. Yesterday it would better be described in modern vernacular as “brutal”! A howling wind and the biting chill that accompanied it made life very unpleasant for a hardy bunch of baseball followers. Sadly, the end result of the game made it an even more unpleasant day for Wildcats’ players and spectators alike. These are challenging times for the ‘Waverley Nation’.
I’ve already mentioned the usual mighty effort of our starting pitcher ‘Big Unit’ Jon Kennedy who again produced remarkably similar numbers to his previous outings this season. Six strong innings for just one run, with a 4/0 strikeouts versus walks ratio. I fully understand the managerial necessity to maintain a structure and consistent work for our relief staff, yet I couldn’t help thinking that big Jon Kennedy could have gone much deeper if the game had been a Championship decider?
Lately it has also become redundant to mention the consistent performances of first baseman Matt ‘Holliday’ Homfray who collected another two hits while gloving 12 put outs at the “busy bag”. The other plural hitter for Waverley was Jamie ‘J-Pap’ Papanicolaou who is quietly contributing as a hitter since his return from a stint in the US college system. The truth of our season so far offensively is that all of our batters have shown that they can hit very good pitching – we just need them to put it all together more often, just as they did at Upwey recently.
In fairness to the boys, we must realise that “timely hitting” is a baseball priority that brings with it a high degree of individual pressure. Good pitchers, like those we have faced, will often bear down in those situations and find the big pitches to make life very difficult for inexperienced batters. Of course we always tend to expect a lot (maybe too much?) from players in the red Waverley shirts, but we really should not overlook the challenges that young players face at this level of competition. Only time and persistence will grow the confidence necessary to step up at those big moments.
In the meantime our boys continue to strive manfully against the “big dogs” in this league and there must be a big scalp coming for us sometime soon. Surely this will add the self-belief that flows on to a more positive and confident attitude. When this happens we can all expect some more timely hitting and improved defensive stability. There is nothing wrong with this team that time and continued hard work won’t resolve – any lumps we take in the interim will be worth the wait!
Back home at Napier Park for a pair of what may well be “season defining” contests with the Doncaster Dragons. First combat comes this Sunday 10 November – Reserves 1:00pm – Firsts 3:30pm. Then follows our first twilight midweek fixture when we host the Dragons again on Tuesday evening 12 November – Firsts only 6:00pm. Keep supporting our boys won’t you!