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Perth Heat players turn to state league in wake of cancelled Australian Baseball League season

Perth Heat players have turned to suburban baseball diamonds in a bid to ensure their talents are not blunted by the cancelled Australian Baseball League season.

Most of the Heat squad have turned to Baseball WA’s State League 1 competition to guarantee them a full season’s worth of games at the highest level possible.

The ABL’s decision to cancel the upcoming season shocked the Perth Heat organisation and with national league games now off the table, the State league will be buttressed by WA’s best players for an entire season.

While the Heat’s veterans are using the State league to keep their tools sharp in the absence of top level competition, the youngsters are using the opportunity to further develop their skill set.

Pitcher Dan Schmidt, who holds the Heat record for most pitching wins, has re-joined his junior side Braves Baseball Club alongside long-time Perth stars Tim and Sam Kennelly.

The 33 year-old said in the absence of the ABL, this State league season took on a lot of importance and at his age, he needed to face high quality batters on a consistent basis.

Teenage Perth Heat pitcher Maddux Stivey in action during the Australian Baseball League.
Camera IconTeenage Perth Heat pitcher Maddux Stivey in action during the Australian Baseball League. Credit: SMP Images

“I’m not getting any younger. I definitely need that period of being able to throw to batters,” he said.

“I’m very much needing repetitions to get my feel for all my pitches and get my arm speed up. Being able to throw a lot more innings in the State league and pitch on a weekly basis is hugely important to me, and I’m sure Tim (Kennelly) and our other hitters would say the same.

“If you go for a period of 12 months without pitching, it’s really hard to come back from. It doesn’t matter how many bullpens you throw or how many times you take batting practice in the cages, it’s just not the same intensity.”

Teenage pitcher Maddux Stivey, currently playing for Swan Districts Baseball Club, said he needed to play at the highest level possible before he headed off to America for college next year.

“There’s no breaks in baseball. If you have one week off, it takes three weeks to get back to where you were,” he said.

“To have the State league, falling back on it is good. You get reps in and compete against the best in the State.”

Veteran Perth Heat pitcher Dan Schmidt has turned to Baseball WA's State League 1 in the wake of the cancelled Australian Baseball League season.
Camera IconVeteran Perth Heat pitcher Dan Schmidt has turned to Baseball WA’s State League 1 in the wake of the cancelled Australian Baseball League season. Credit: SMP Images Wendy Powick/SMPIMAGES

Stivey said the cancelled ABL season was due to be his last campaign with the Heat before flying out to San Jacinto College in Houston in August, and was glad the State league offered him a chance to take the field with and against his Heat teammates.

“All the teams have good players, everyone’s maxed out, you’re playing at a high level. There’s a few more Heat players in my team as well, about three or four of us,” he said.

With Heat players normally able to play State league baseball only at the start and end of their season due to their ABL commitments, Schmidt said their increased presence in the league would hopefully aid the development of younger players.

“It’s the first time in quite a while we’re going to have ABL talent playing in the local leagues. It’s only going to help the development of the young kids coming through the ranks,” he said.

“To have the more experienced ABL players around to teach them, so they can learn from guys like myself, Tim and Warwick (Saupold), from a local standpoint it will be very beneficial moving forward for development.”

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