Australian baseball's prestigious Claxton Shield awaits the winner of this week's Australian Baseball League (ABL) Championship Series.
As Melbourne Aces manager Jon Deeble reflects on the trophy's history and anticipates an exciting contest against last season's winner, the Brisbane Bandits, he urges Victorian baseball people to get to Melbourne Ballpark and show support for the Aces.
"I think it would be great for everyone to get out there and support this, you know really get behind it".
"We're going to need help and the crowd support is always something that you can really hang your hat on".
Deeble is in just his first season with the Aces, but his association with baseball in Victoria goes back a long way.
He is passionate about the Claxton Shield and its ability to unite people in the quest to bring it back to Victoria.
"In the old Claxton Shield days everyone supported the Victorian baseball team," he said.
Deeble is confident in his team's ability and believes it has the strongest pitching and defence in the ABL.
The Aces have won seven of the eight clashes against Brisbane this season, but Deeble says previous encounters this season will have no bearing on the best-of-three Championship Series.
"We've got a lot of respect for them as a team and I think it's going to be very close and hopefully we can get the win," he said.
The Bandits' offensive capabilities were evident in a dominant game three Preliminary Final display in which the side trounced Adelaide Bite by 16 runs.
Every batter in the Bandits' lineup contributed to the team's imposing tally of 23 hits.
Deeble outlines what is required for the Aces to seize the Claxton Shield.
"The Brisbane team, I think they've hit well all year".
"We've got to try to keep their offence down and at the same time try to score some ourselves".
Whilst the Aces have been quiet with the bat recently, there is no panic from the manager.
He considers the side will go in well prepared after last week's practice matches against some quality pitching.
Those matches allowed batters nursing niggles to get in hitting practice without having to run, and pitching counts were carefully managed.
The big league experience of a number of Aces will be important against Brisbane.
Brad Harman, James Beresford, Mark Hamburger, Peter Moylan, Virgil Vasquez and Shane Lindsay are some of those who should provide a calming influence.
However, Deeble is also excited about the young Australians who will be representing Melbourne, with players such as Ryan Dale, Jared Cruz and Liam Bedford all having exceptional seasons.
Deeble regards the involvement of Aces players and coaching staff with junior baseball teams as crucial to the future of the sport in Victoria taking the initiative this season to engage with junior players by visiting clubs and running clinics, and by including under 16 and under 18 players state players in training and practice matches.
Such initiatives ensure the long-term sustainability of a Victorian team in the ABL.
However, this weekend the focus will be on the Claxton Shield.
Tickets to the Australian Baseball League Champions series are currently ON SALE NOW.
- Game 1 // Friday 10 February // 7.30PM
- Game 2 // Saturday 11 February // 6.30PM
- Game 3 // Sunday 12 February // 2.30PM (if required)
Want to watch the ABLCS in style? With packages starting from just $100 with no minimum numbers required, our VIP packages include a fully catered ballpark menu PLUS your own personal OPEN BAR. Give the team a call on (03) 8360 9371.