Fastpitch development in Manchester leads to Under-19 Men selections

Thu 11 May 2017

Efforts to develop fastpitch softball in Manchester have been taking root over the past two years, but there still isn’t a fastpitch league or team in the North West.  So it’s amazing news that five players from the region have been selected for the GB Under-19 Men’s Team that will compete in European Championships this summer.

The five young players selected, who all play in the Manchester (Slowpitch) Softball League, are Dan and JD Downes, who play for the Tigers Softball Club; Max Fagan, who plays for the Didsbury Bats and has played baseball with Manchester Baseball Club; and Nathan Barratt and Thomas Russell, who play for Thunder Softball Club.

Their interest in taking up fastpitch grew after GB Under-19 Men’s Team Manager Ian Tomlin contacted all slowpitch League Heads last year to ask if they could suggest any young players from their league with the ability to succeed at a more challenging form of the sport.  This request on Ian’s part bore fruit, with players coming forward from several slowpitch leagues.

Tributes

Dave Wareham from the Manchester Softball League, who has Dan and JD Downes in his league team, the Tigers, said: “The selection of Dan, JD and others from Manchester for the GB Under-19 Men’s Fastpitch squad is a tribute both to their own talents and also to all the hard work they have put in over the last few months. 

“It’s doubly hard for people based in the North of England to get selected,” Dave added, “because of the lack of any opportunity to play fastpitch softball locally.  The travelling backwards and forwards they have to do to attend training and GBFL games is hard on them and on their parents and it’s great that that the effort has paid off and so many of the guys will get the opportunity to represent their country.”

Luis Arrevillagas, North West Development Manager for BSUK said: “It is great news for me in two ways.  Professionally, we have had a push for the last two years to try to get fastpitch started here in the North West and it has proven challenging.  We wanted to bring a team to the GBFL last year but slowpitch seemed to get in the way.  However, since last year, when we set up a few indoor sessions and brought the Academy to Manchester, we have had so many people helping out. 

Helpers​

“We had a determination to make it work,” Luis continued, “from the likes of Annie Downes, the mother of the Downes brothers and the person who really pushed for the Academy, and from Paul Cooper and Ian Tomlin, the coaches who travelled to Manchester to help out.  Jo Malasani, BSUK’s Fastpitch Development Officer, organised and delivered the Academy here and Dave Wareham was always willing to help, as were the parents of many of the the boys.  BSUK Coach Linni Mitchell supported the training and Academy sessions and Sophie Temple lent us her pitching machine.

“We can’t wait to see these boys play for GB,” Luis added, “and pave the way for fastpitch in the North West.”

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