The Don Rice League Grand Final is set and ready to get underway. At 6:30PM on Wednesday evening at Diamond Sports SA, Port Adelaide and Glenelg will show down for the Championship.
The Don Rice League is a development league in South Australia giving the opportunity for 15 to 20 year old players to get extra time on the field under game conditions.
All 13 Division 1 clubs in the South Australian Baseball League fielded a side this year with Port Adelaide and Glenelg making the Grand Final. The competition was split in two divisions - North and South. Port were the Kings of the North, defeating East Torrens in the Northern Divison Final, while Glenelg ruled the South by beating West Torrens in South Final.
This is the third season of the Don Rice League. Current Bite players like Jack O'Louglin have played (and still play!) in the competition. Other notable Bite rising stars who have played are Mason Pickard, Jordan McArdle, Ky Hampton and Mitch Lightbody.
In advance of the Grand Final on Wednesday evening, we caught up with the head coach of each team in the game.
Jeff Downs, the Glenelg coach, is excited ahead of the clash with Port Adelaide.
Baseball South Australia (BSA): It's been a great season to get to this point so far. Is there any highlight that sticks out in your mind the most about this season?
Jeff Downs (JD): We as a coaching staff have implemented a number of processes for individuals to work on and improve. We are pleased to see glimpses of improvement and dedication towards each players self- improvement.
It's still work in progress. They are given written feedback and goals on a weekly basis for their improvement.
BSA: What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome this season?
JD: Ensuring communication between our coaching staff and the other coaching staff at GBC the players represent on the weekends. This is so the message is consistent so there is no confusion for the players.
BSA: If you had to describe your team in just three words, what would they be and why?
JD: Resilient, dedicated, responsive to instruction
BSA: How do competitions like this help develop young players in state baseball?
JD: Personally I believe this competition is the most important to GBC (and the League). It gives us (GBC) an opportunity to make players feel important as an individual and we care about their future with GBC. There is a tendency for them to get lost whilst senior players dominate training sessions. Each player is treated equally and given performance-based feedback for them to work on to achieve their goals as ball players.
BSA: Are there a couple players in the team we could be seeing play for the Bite in the coming years?
JD: Others have identified individuals who have the tools to reach that level within our team. I believe there are a number of players within the playing group could reach that level with personal drive and dedication to continuous improvement.
I have seen too many players with "5" tools not reach levels others have projected and as such do not wish to add pressure to any individual. It will be up to them given the opportunity and appropriate coaching and hard work.
BSA: Who will be your starting pitcher and what can you tell us about him?
JD: Our starting pitcher is going to be Jayden ELDRIDGE - a left-hander who changes speeds well, locates his pitches and has good craft on the hill. His style, velocity and craft is akin to John DEEBLE in his playing days.
Errol BURNS is likely to go to the hill after ELDRIDGE and he is a right-hander who has a lively fastball with good movement.
The closer will be Alec STEFF. He's an ex PORT PIRIE lad and is a hard throwing left hander who is steadily improving each outing. All have a bright future with GBC and we look forward to them performing well for the club over a number of years.
Please note the rotation is subject to change based on game situations.
#10 - Dylan Bentley
#20 - Alec Steff
#40 - Joe Gluyas
#41 - Ben Clavell
#43 - Max Forster
#46 - Errol Burns
#53 - Jayden Eldridge
#54 - Mason Clavell
#73 - Zac Munroe
#74 - Tyson Arnold
# - Alex Witty
# - Jacob Eldridge
# - Flynn Luders
# - Tom Huttunen
# - Rion Sato
Head Coach - Jeff Downs
Assistant Coach - Peter Arnold
Assistant Coach - Andrew Gluyas
Pitching Coach - Lachlan Eldridge