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Kennelly's comeback continues
Heat star bound for second consecutive U23 World Cup
10/10/2018 1:11 AM ET
PHOTO - World Baseball Softball Confederation
PHOTO - World Baseball Softball Confederation 

Twenty-two-year-old Sam Kennelly has endured his fair share of adversity when it comes to baseball. 

Within the space of a few months, Kennelly's services were no longer required by the Pittsburgh Pirates and the talented infielder heard the two words that send shivers down the spine of every baseball player.

Tommy John.

After the Perth Heat were narrowly beaten by the Adelaide Bite on January 15, 2017, Kennelly sensed 'something wasn't right' with his elbow.

Kennelly's worst fears came to be, as week later he underwent surgery to reconstruct his ulnar collateral ligament.

"Long-term injuries like that (Tommy John) are always tough to come back from," Kennelly says. 

"A lot of things go through your mind. You start to think a little bit more about your future and whether or not you can get back to your best. It's the last thing you want to hear as a position player.

"Thankfully I had a lot of support from my friends, family, the Perth Heat and the Melville Braves (Kennelly's club team)."

That support gave Kennelly the strength to keep going, as the star infielder reignited his career with De Glaskoning Twins in the Dutch Baseball League this year.

Kennelly was one of the Twins' best, hitting .255 and finishing with a league-leading six home runs. 

"The experience (with Twins) in The Netherlands was unbelievable," Kennelly says.

"It's been one of the best decisions I've ever made, getting 165 at-bats against quality opposition that I missed during rehab."

That decision has helped Kennelly get back to the U23 World Cup, after being part of the 2016 team that claimed a historic silver medal.

Australia knocked off Korea, Panama and Chinese Taipei on the way to the championship game, where they fell to Japan.

"There was a special vibe around that group," Kennelly said of the 2016 Australian team. 

"We had a great mindset, put everything on the line each game and most importantly, we played for each other. 

"It's a memory I'll never forget."

Seven members of the history-making 2016 team will return to the fold this year, with the full squad released by Baseball Australia this week.

"Whether or not we have the most talented team, we need to stick together and play the game the right way," Kennelly said of this year's U23 team. 

"We know we can match it with the best in the world, and we have the potential to win the whole thing."

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