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DRL Grand Final Preview: West Torrens
02/25/2018 8:52 PM ET
 

Some of the best young baseball players in the country will be on display on Wednesday night at West Beach in the 2017/18 Don Rice League Grand Final. 

The West Torrens Eagles and the Kensington Cardinals are ready to square off to see who has the best Under 20 squad in South Australia. The Don Rice League consists of the best Under 20 players at each South Australian baseball club. It's a great chance to put a squad together containing anyone from 14 years old to 19 years old.

It's not without challenges, at each team has to navigate through a 10-week regular season and juggle other playing commitments, state teams and the Bite. It's a real testament to both teams who successfully found their way through a busy schedule and put together two excellent teams. 

In advance of the Wednesday's 7PM Grand Final, BaseballSA will preview the two remaining teams. Today we'll start with the top seeded West Torrens Eagles.

West Torrens bolsters as squad riddled with top end young talent. It's no suprise they have rolled to a perfect 9-0 regular season record.

They have been a juggernaut that has destroyed everything in their path. In nine regular season games, the closest they came to a loss was last week's 4-1 preliminary final win over Glenelg. In fact, the Eagles have rolled over opponents by a combined score of 90-18 or an average of 9.00 to 1.80. 

From top-to-bottom, the Eagles have a team filled with State U18, U16 and charter players. Jarrod Miller leads the attack for the Eagles following an Under 18 National Championship for South Australia where he won the 'National Hitting Title'. He's joined by stalwarts Curtis Mead and Griffin Weber - two Bite debutants this season. Curtis Mead hit .350 in the Australian Baseball League and is in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. 


They also have talent from the U16 State Team including rising stars Jacob Scott and Jasper Clark. That's what's unique about the Don Rice League - any given line up could have a 19 year old with heaps of experience paired with a 14 year old who is looking to make a name for himself in the baseball circles.

EO Bob Baker says balancing the wide range of ages has been a challenge but one that has been overcome by a great club culture. 


"Everybody has gelled really well together. It's been a driver for me and all the other coaches - a team like this really connects the club," he says. "This is a club team more than an Under 20 Team. Guys are willing to play their part and mix with each other no matter the age."

Baker says the Eagles will be ready to fly come Wednesday night.

"We've got a good mix between good pitching and good hitting. There's a blend of youth and experience. We have an 18 year old, a 17 year old with lots of ABL experience, some 14 year olds," he says. "But what everybody does well is support each other. It creates a great team culture."

Baker adds that competitions like the Don Rice League have been greatly beneficial for the development of high-end players. 


"The more you play, particularly at a higher standard, the better you advance as a person and a player," he says. 

We caught up with Baker to ask a few more hard hitting questions.

1) What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome this season?

There's been no real biggies, apart from dealing with player unavailability due to work or injury but that's every club team. 

Mixing 18 year olds with 14 year olds could have been a challenge but the guys really do gel well.

2) If you had to describe the team in just three words, what would they be and why?

Will one word do? SERIOUSFUN! 

Yes - the boys tell me that's two words but I say it's one as you have to have both going for you at the same time. 

3) Who will be your starting pitcher and what can you tell us about him?

Ryan Broome will most likely start as he did against Glenelg in the Divisional Game last Wednesday. 

He's from Mount Gambier and our oldest player at 18. He has largely played in the 2s this year as a catcher. After some impressive closing pitching outings in the U20s he has earned a spot as a starter. 

This has led to a recent starting role in the 2s where he did very well. He's big and strong. Perhaps it's just his hair. He isn't far from a pitch in the 1s. 
 

4) How do competitions like this help develop young players in State Baseball? 

The majority of our squad have State Junior appearances but our Under 20 coaching focus is still on the basics. We wither revisit forgotten ones or introduce new advanced ones. This development focus applies to all junior grades. 

5) Talk to us about your line up. What sort of batting team are you?

We have some Under 18 representatives in the team who are noted hitters. Probably headed by national series hitting champion Jarrod Miller aka J-ROD.

Curtis Mead - the National Series MVP has made himself available for the finals after qualifying during the season but not playing every game. He was busy with State 18s and the Bite. We did not want to overplay/use him. 

Griffin Weber recently got his first hit in A Grade after some impressive hitting in the 2s, including a home run.

Jacob Scott recently represented for Australia in New Zealand. He is a sweet timer of the ball and can get it to the fence. Not too bad for a first year Under 17 player. 

Ryan Broome may well lead the league in doubles. 

We also have some guys that can run and so some guys have the green light [on the base path].

And there is no doubt that when the game dictates we will bunt the runners over. 

Eathan Marchioro and Cameron Blackwell represented us in Little League Seniors in the USA for the Armada, and Jasper Clark was with us for the U16 state team. 

We also have some great arms to bring in after Ryan on the mound. This includes Jacob Scott, Jasper Clark and Cooper Marsh (who is currently pitching in the twos!) 

 

PLAYERS AND COACHES 

David Green -U11 Coach

Ken Henry - U11 Coach

Greg Milkins - U17 Coach

Robert Baker - EO


Players 

Darcy Barry #72

Arthur Beer #47

Cameron Blackwell

Ryan Broome #21

Jasper Clark #50

Damien Durant

Henry Mapleson

Ethan Marchioro

Cooper Marsh

Curtis Mead

Jarrod Miller

Jarrad Smith #40

Jacob Scott #8

Griffin Weber #26

Jayden Bubner

Oscar Weber

Paddy Ween

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