Perth Heat gearing up for another ABL title tilt
PERTH Heat star Tim Kennelly has one thing on his mind: championships.
After the Heat fell short in the post-season last year, Kennelly’s focus is to help the side go a couple of steps further and claim a fifth Australian Baseball League championship since 2011.
The designated hitter, who has spent time with the national team and in the American minor leagues, has high hopes for this year’s side.
“Last year was a decent season, but obviously we’re trying to win championships and I think we’ve got a pretty good squad,” he said.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs, give ourselves the best chance of winning the championship, get a bit of momentum building and hopefully we can go better this year and win the championship.”
Expectations are high for the Heat, who finished second to Brisbane last season off the back of a 26-14 record, before they fell to Canberra in the best-of-three preliminary final.
Kennelly said the departure of key imports like league MVP Jake Fraley hurt the side last season, but backed Perth’s crop of youngsters to play an important role this season.
“We were a little unlucky to lose some of our imports towards the back end of the season, which hurt us, but the young guys stepped up,” he said.
“They’ve got another season under their belts, so they’ll be better.”
The side’s partnership with Major League Baseball side Tampa Bay Rays is expected to once again provide some spark, with the Florida franchise sending catcher Chris Betts, infielder Tristan Gray, outfielder Carl Chester and pitchers Joel Peguero and Christopher Sanchez.
Meanwhile, seasoned veterans Kennelly, Cam Lamb, Dan Schmidt, Warwick Saupold and Scott Mitchinson will look to pick up where they left off last year.
Perth Heat begin their ABL season at Perth Ballpark with a four-game home series against newcomers Auckland Tuatara, running from Friday to Sunday.