By David Searle*
AS the Hobart Summer Baseball League (HSBL) completes the first round of games in 2016, we find the Dragons sitting undefeated on top of the standings.
Tim Holland, from Adelaide, has provided invaluable pitching help to Dragons’ dynamo Brendan Adams and has not been too shabby with the bat either.
Shane Davies has flexed his muscles with the bat and leads the team with an average of 0.600 (third in the league, with 0.300 being considered very good in Major League Baseball) and four home runs, closely followed by Adams who has three across the board.
The Dragons are a batting line-up and their fielding is generally flawless.
The Hotel Soho Hobart Blue Jays appear to be their biggest challengers, though they will need other pitchers to stand up behind veteran Peter Hubble, who is pitching as well as ever.
The fielding of Evan Toms and Lloyd Budgen has been a highlight and Ryan Oakley is having a career season with the bat, coming second on the league averages after seven rounds with 0.611.
It will be a toss-up amongst the other teams, but the Eastern Athletics and Northern White Sox have been missing important team members for various reasons, so when they return who knows what could happen.
The Athletics have been hampered by injuries, not the least of which was to their skipper Andrew “Sully” Sullivan, who can excel with both bat and pitching.
His return was most welcome and once he regains full fitness he will be a great back to young pitcher, Sam Morrison.
Notwithstanding the return of other experienced players, the wildcard for the Athletics could be Allan Haw who has shown considerable talent at the plate.
The White Sox have also had their share of injuries, but the lengthy absences of Matt Cashman, Patrick Miller and Peter McManus – along with the off-season departures of Chris Chalker and Andrew Kennedy to the Orioles – have not helped their cause.
On the plus side, they have secured the services of Richie Law, whose talent and experience will be invaluable.
The “dark horse” could be the new team, the Orioles, who created HSBL history by winning their first-ever game after some heart-breaking losses on Sunday 10 January.
Their 11-8 defeat of the Eastern Athletics in a thriller was highlighted by a grand slam home run by Jimmy Clout, as well as some solid fielding in a team effort.
The Orioles are primarily made up of first-year players, but with Shane Bromfield (who leads the league averages with 0.615), Chris Chalker, Linton Burgess and Jamie McIntyre adding experience, as well as the return of Stuart Robins and “guest” appearances by Jimmy Clout, the enthusiastic and dedicated Orioles will have other teams looking over their shoulders.
*David Searle is the president of Baseball Tasmania