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Heat rise up standings as offence shines
02/21/2018 10:42 PM ET
Perth had plenty to celebrate as they made a return to the ABL playoffs in 2017/2018 (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
Perth had plenty to celebrate as they made a return to the ABL playoffs in 2017/2018 (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA (Ben Southall)

With the Australian Baseball League Championship Series done and dusted, we take a look back at how each team fared during the 2017/2018 season in reverse finishing order. Today we look at the Perth Heat.

Perth completed a stunning rise during the 2017/2018 season, going from cellar dweller to within a win of the Australian Baseball League Championship Series within the space of 12 months.

The Heat took their regular-season win tally from 14 to 26 under new manager Andy Kyle, before falling to Canberra in their best-of-three semi-final series.

Perth navigated a tricky start to the season against 2017 ABLCS combatants Melbourne and Brisbane before taking eight of its next nine.

From there the Heat grew in confidence despite some hiccups.

They lost Tampa Bay prospect Zac Law earlier than expected with the catcher departing after being hit on the head with a pitch.

While fellow Rays' prospect Michael Brosseau missed the final three rounds after also going home injured.

Jake Fraley was then absent for Perth's playoff tilt, leaving another big hole in the Heat line-up.

But Perth shrugged off the loss off key imports to be the league's most productive offensive team.

The Heat hit .309, scoring a league-high 309 runs during the regular season.

While Brosseau and Fraley were key drivers of the offence, Tim Kennelly and Luke Hughes enjoyed strong seasons.

Up-and-coming talents Jesse Williams and Robbie Glendinning were standouts in the second half of the season.

Starting pitcher Kyle Simon also warmed up in the second half of the campaign, while luckless Alex Boshers was one of the league's best despite recording just one win.

Closer Cameron Lamb tied with Adelaide's Loek van Mil for an ABL-best six saves.


What went right

Perth's import mix was spot on.

The Heat brought in four Tampa Bay prospects and despite varying lengths of time down under they all played key roles.

Michael Brosseau returned home injured as one of the league's hottest hitters and was clutch several times for the hit.

Jake Fraley looks as a contender for the Helms Award and Zac Law and Garrett Whitley were important cogs in the Perth line-up.

The Heat's youngsters - including Jesse Williams, Robbie Glendinning, Alex Hall and Ulrich Bojarski - got better too.

While veterans Tim Kennelly and Luke Hughes enjoyed solid seasons and Matt Kennelly made a successful transition to pitching.


What went wrong

The Heat's chances of claiming a fifth title in the reborn ABL were hindered by the departure of three key imports.

Zac Law and Michael Brosseau did not see out the regular season while Jake Fraley was absent for the playoffs.

While Perth managed to cover for the loss of Law and Brosseau to finish the regular season, the Heat's offence went missing in the playoffs.

Perth scored four runs and struck out 31 times across losses in game two and three of the semi-final series against Canberra.

The Heat also made more errors than anyone across the season.

They committed 59, making life tougher than it needed to be at times.


Most impressive win

Defeated Brisbane 5-0 at Wild Moose Stadium on January 20.

Perth's record-breaking 32-10 win over Canberra on New Year's Eve was impressive, but Nick Veale's dominance of Brisbane is one for the baseball purists.

Veale carried a no-hitter into the seventh as the Heat became the first team since Melbourne on December 2, 2016, to shut out the Bandits.

Luke Hughes and Garrett Whitley homered to support Veale and earn Perth a split of its top-of-the-table series.

Veale finished with seven strikeouts in a dominant display. Player of the Season

Jake Fraley

The outfielder was a standout for the Heat, appearing in all 40 regular season games and leading the team in key offensive categories including hits (61), home runs (13) and total bases (115).

Fraley also smashed former Canberra infielder Jon Berti's single-season stolen base record, finishing with 39 for the season.


Highlight of the season

It was wild, and they had some help, but Perth pulled off a comeback win in game three of its series against Canberra in round six with a three-run ninth.


2017/2018 grade: A-

Perth's rise back to the top of the league was as impressive as it was rapid.

A 12-win improvement on the previous season is no easy feat in a 40-game season.

The Heat's veterans showed no signs of slowing and their young players showed continued development, giving plenty of reason to be excited about the future.

If Perth gets the right imports again next season it will be in the mix once more as it chases a fifth title in the current ABL.

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