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By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN

IT’S quite a way from a part-time baseball field at Wallington to US college ranks but a number of Bellarine Bears Baseball Club players have gone the journey.
Club stalwart David Crotty recognises that clubs such as his are often a starting point for talented juniors.
“There’s a bit of talent spread around the place,” he said proudly.
In one season a few years back the club supplied seven players to the Victorian under-18 team.
“We pretty much filled the state side,” David chuckled.
The club has also had a number of players go on to represent Victoria at national championships as well as five players to colleges in the US on scholarships.
“There are often scouts around, especially at the national championships where the various state teams play against each other,” he said.
“US college scholarships give a player the chance to play their sport and get a degree as well. Some progress through college and get a major league contract.
“A few Geelong players have made the majors, going back to Graham Lloyd.
“It’s great for the player, especially the younger guys, but it means we lose them. As soon as they start to show some promise we tend to lose them to the state team.
“We’re always trying to maintain the development of our kids so we don’t have too big a gap to fill if they move on.”
David said the club had more than 50 members, running three senior teams, but the juniors “could use a boost”.
“We run junior baseball versions of programs like kanga cricket and Auskick, great for kids aged between four and 10 years so they can have a go and be introduced to the sport.
“We spend a fair bit of time with our kids, and encourage parent participation so they can learn the sport.
“Ninety per cent of the population knows cricket and football but only about one per cent know about baseball,” he said,
“If the kids enjoy it they can get further involved. We run after-school programs and we have coaches running clinics.
“We’ve just opened our new indoor batting shed, an indoor facility with hitting nets and a pitching machine that can shoot out a couple of hundred balls for batting practice.
“It’s an all-weather facility and we hope it might develop a bit more interest. It can be adjusted for various kinds of pitches and will be a great training aid to improve skills.”
David said the sport helped develop multiple skills, hand-to-eye coordination, fitness and agility.
“It’s a team sport that also encourages success as individuals. It’s the combination of individual skills that promotes team success,” he said.
“All players are involved in pretty much the whole game. Everyone gets to bat three or four times and players move around in the field so they get to experience all parts of the sport.”
Anyone seeking more information can phone David on 0418 520 259 or email dcro3325@bigpond.net.au.

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