On Wednesday 22 February, Port Adelaide and Glenelg will play in the 2017 Don Rice League Grand Final - one of the best young leagues in Aussie baseball.
The Don Rice League is a development league in South Australia giving the opportunity for 15 to 20 year old players to get extra time on the field under game conditions.
All 13 Division 1 clubs in the South Australian Baseball League fielded a side this year with Port Adelaide and Glenelg making the Grand Final. The competition was split in two divisions - North and South. Port were the Kings of the North, defeating East Torrens in the Northern Divison Final, while Glenelg ruled the South by beating West Torrens in South Final.
In advance of the Grand Final on Wednesday evening, we caught up with the head coach of each team in the game.
Jeremy Atkinson and Boom Prinstien, the two Port Adelaide head coaches, took the time to answer a few questions about his team from Port Adelaide.
As you'll learn, Port Adelaide are loaded with young talent including Adelaide Bite starting pitcher Jack O'Louglin.
Baseball South Australia (BSA): It's been a great season to get to this point so far. Is there any highlight that sticks out in your mind the most about this season?
Jeremy Atkinson/Boomer Prinstien (JA/BP): The highlight of the year is that we won 8 out of 11 games without ever hitting a ball pre-game and we did this while playing all of our players and having fun together.
It was also a very exciting game last week versing East Torrens. It was a see-sawing affair where we saw both teams throw everything at each other and left all they had out on the field. We saw each team take the lead from their opponent a couple times and then it would change. True credit goes to East Torrens for the effort they put in this season, they were always a tough opponent!
BA: What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome this season?
JA/BP: The greatest challenge we overcame was learning how to not get down on ourselves, individually and collectively, despite the constant failure that the game of baseball produces. Whether it's a call from the umpire behind the pitchers mound that we don't agree with, or making a physical error in the field - the greatest challenge has been staying positive and confident when things don't go our way.
BA: If you had to describe your team in just three words, what would they be and why?
JA/BP: "We Take Hacks". Because we have an offensive approach to offense.
BA: How do competitions like this help develop young players in state baseball?
JA/BP: Competitions like the 'Don Rice League' are great because it gets the younger guys more at-bats, more ground balls, more fly balls, more innings- more game time. The more game time, the better for these young developing athletes! Playing against their mates from other teams that are around their own age, it gives them the confidence and that competitive edge to want to give it their all and to compete at a high level.
BA: Are there a couple players in your team we could be seeing play for the Bite in the coming years?
JA/BP: We have a young but talented team comprised mostly of 15, 16, and 17 year olds, a great sign for Port Adelaide but also beneficial to the Adelaide Bite with guys like Whitcher, Schrapel, Sowton, Bradshaws, Arriola, Dunnill, Clements, Collett, Stead, Woolman, and McKee all potentially developing into ABL caliber players at their peak.
Also, Jack O'Loughlin has been lucky enough to play for us during this season when his other commitments haven't intervened, and he already led the Adelaide Bite in innings pitched this season with hopefully many more productive seasons ahead.
PORT ADELAIDE ROSTER
#44 Brodie Arriola
#50 Hayden Bradshaw
#89 Reece Bradshaw
#18 Matthew Clements
#8 Jack Collett
#65 Jasper Dunnill
#28 Tyson McKee
#14 Jack O'Loughlin
#39 Michael Schrapel
#12 Jackson Sowton
#15 Jack Stead
#99 Kiall Whitcher
#29 Kane Woolman
# - Todd Trebilcock
Coach: Jeremy Atkinson
Assistant Coach: Boomer Prinstein
Assistant Coach: Dave Sims
Assistant Coach: Carl Johnson