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Kyle key to Heat's resurgence
Heat skipper primed to return Perth to promised land
01/29/2019 5:09 AM ET
 (SMP Images/James Worsfold)

After a league-worst 14-26 record in 2017, the Perth Heat were in unchartered waters and looking for someone to turn the tide.

That someone was Andy Kyle.

In the space of 24 months, Kyle has given the Heat an opportunity to recreate their dynasty after sealing their first ABL Championship Series berth since 2015.

"It was really tough to see the Heat struggle," says Kyle, whose family have been mainstays in the Perth baseball community.

"Managing Perth was something I'd been priming myself for, and I'm really proud of everyone involved for turning it around.

"Our goal was to create that winning culture again."

That winning culture has been a constant since the ABL's reformation in 2010.

The Claxton Shield found a home out west in four of the first five seasons, cementing the Heat as one of Australia's most successful sporting teams.

Perth were on the edge of missing another championship series after Sydney won game one of their semi-final series on Friday night, but Kyle says the coaching staff kept it low-key.

"The staff discussed whether we needed to address the group (after game one), but we decided against it," he said.

"The group took it pretty hard as no one really stepped up and took the initiative.

"We were all hurt badly by that loss, but we bounced back with guys like Tim Kennelly leading the way."

Kennelly - a former league MVP - has been the heart and soul of the club this season, despite playing an unfamiliar role.

After predominantly hitting in the middle of the lineup during his career, Kennelly has shifted to the leadoff spot in 2019 and hasn't missed a beat.

Kennelly managed a .338 batting average with six homers this season and has been a model of consistency.

"Tim is a true professional," Kyle said.

"We contemplated putting him in the middle of the order, but we didn't have that pure leadoff hitter so we put the idea to Tim.

"He's the guy we want to set the tone early and have that extra at-bat late."

Kennelly will be a deciding factor to Perth's success against Brisbane this weekend, as Kyle sees a number of similarities between the two clubs.

"I think they're the Perth Heat of this era," Kyle said.

"They've stuck with a talented young core and nurtured them into stars of this league.

"We've played well in Brisbane before and will take a lot of confidence from that.

"I think our offence matches up with theirs as well as any team in the league."

Game one of the ABL Championship Series presented by Boral will take place at 7pm AWST on Thursday 31 January. 

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