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Tim Kennelly honoured with 2012 Helms Award
Perth slugger becomes 40th winner of prestigious award
02/26/2012 12:18 AM ET
Kennelly (R) receives the Ron Sharp Medal from ABL Chairman Mark Peters.
Kennelly (R) receives the Ron Sharp Medal from ABL Chairman Mark Peters. (SMP Images)

SYDNEY, 25 February -The 2012 Helms Award winner was announced Saturday night at the Baseball Australia Diamond Awards proudly presented by Virgin Australia, and yet another accolade has been bestowed upon a member of the 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat. Tim Kennelly was in attendance to receive the honour, having fought off fierce competition from his teammate Warwick Saupold and Canberra "UberGlobal" Cavalry slugger Brian Burgamy, the other two finalists. Kennelly displayed both surprise and humility in his receipt of this prestigious award, which have been presented to Australian baseball's most outstanding player since 1962.

"[I'm] a little bit [surprised], just because the level of competition was so good. Warwick Saupold pitched phenomenally and had a microscopic ERA this season. Saupold's success this season opened up the eyes of several professional teams and because of his impressive season he got signed, and I am glad he got signed. Brian Burgamy hitting over .400 on the season (and) playing stellar baseball for 45 games, my hat's off to these guys. Honestly, I was surprised and excited to be recognized," Kennelly said.

All three candidates brought impressive credentials in making their case for the award, but Kennelly's season certainly made him worthy of selection. He earned the team's SAM BAT Silver Slugger Award, ranking first on the team in batting average (.374) and RBI (39), along with tying Alex Burg for the team home run lead (10). His batting average and RBI total also ranked second in the league.

On 30 December, he hit two home runs in each game of a doubleheader against the Bite, setting an ABL record with four in one day. He continued his success in the Postseason, hitting .323 with eight RBI in seven games. In addition to his hitting prowess, Kennelly provided outstanding defence at both third base and in the outfield, earning a Golden Glove nomination for his efforts.

He explained: "Being an MVP is recognition for being the player that helps the team and is a leader on and off the field. For me, it was being that leader and helping my team win. It was being one of the veterans of the team and helping to prepare my teammates both physically and mentally. Leading by example with Luke [Hughes] out for the most of the season, I stepped up to lead the team, and when he was unable to play in the Championship Series, he was there in spirit and I was there providing a veteran presence and contributing to the offence."

Although the future remains uncertain regarding the Helms honouree's path to the Majors, what is certain is that he can carry the momentum gained in his outstanding ABL campaign right in the upcoming minor league season in the Philadelphia Phillies system.

"For me personally, this season has been big; it gives me a good mindset and gives me confidence going into spring training. A lot of guys who play ball don't get the at-bats, or don't participate in a winter league. If I get away from the game too long, then my skills become unpolished. The level of competition here is good and the at-bats are extremely helpful," Kennelly commented.

Looking back on the Heat's successful championship repeat this season, it is apparent that Kennelly was a catalyst for the offence. His clutch hits, plate approach and presence in the locker room embodied everything an MVP is and should be. He joins Heat teammate James McOwen as the last two winners of the Helms Award after McOwen won it last year while playing for the Adelaide ETSA Bite. While Kennelly remained humble throughout the evening and spoke more of his team's back-to-back Claxton Shield titles, the Australian Baseball League is proud to welcome him as the newest member of the Helms Award fraternity.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.