GB Under-18 Men announce 2020 selections

Fri 12 Jun 2020

Although the 2020 European Under-18 Men’s Fastpitch Championship has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, coaches from the GB Under-18 Men’s Fastpitch Team have announced the squad to recognise the athletes selected.

Following an inaugural Under-18 Men’s Tournament that took place in Israel in October 2019 as a qualifier for a new WBSC Under-18 World Cup, the first Under-18 European Championship was scheduled to take place in Sezimovo Usti, in the Czech Republic, from 6-11 July 2020.  However, this tournament, like so many others, fell victim to the pandemic.

These tournaments were the first for the Under-18 age group, which replaced Under-19 competitions after the World Baseball Softball Confederation changed competition age groups worldwide a couple of years ago.

Selection Process

With some of their more experienced players ageing out after last October’s European Qualifier, the GB Under-18 Men’s Team staff undertook an active recruitment drive, and trials for new players took place in February at a National Academy session in Coventry.  As a result, a number of new young players with future potential were added to the squad.

The team has retained two dual-national players from New South Wales, Australia, who joined the squad last year and who give the team valuable experience and a boost to pitching and catching options.

At the start of the year, the plan was to enter both the GB Under-23 and Under-18 squads, who usually train together, into the Great Britain Fastpitch League, giving them the opportunity for playing time together as a team.  Unfortunately, these plans have also fallen prey to the pandemic.

The team

The players that were selected for this year’s European Under-18 Men’s Championship were:

Bruce Candlish (Captain)
Hayden Dabelstein
Joshua Deacon
Bryn Davies
Matthew Eder
Mathew Green
Brendan Frank
Kai Owens
Harvey Robinson
Joshua Rollins
Oliver Thornhill
James Warren
Sam Whatmore

The staff for this summer’s tournament would have been:

Head Coach
Ian Tomlin

Assistant/Pitching Coach
John Brown

Team Manager
Jill Russell

Future plans

Hopefully, the players from both the GB Under-23 and Under-18 teams will be able to get some play in towards the end of the season in 2020, in preparation for European tournaments for both teams in 2021.

The GB Under-23 Team will play in a European World Cup Qualifier early next year, with places at stake for the inaugural WBSC Under-23 Men’s World Cup in Argentina in late September.  Meanwhile, the GB Under-18 Men will be playing in the European Under-18 Men’s Championship in Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic, in July.

Head Coach Ian Tomlin said, “I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all the players who have been selected for the Under-18 Team.  Jill, John and I were all looking forward to the tournament this summer, and the players selected had all worked hard leading up to the trials.  The talent within the squad suggested that we would have been in a position to compete with the top teams in Europe.

“However, given the challenging conditions we are facing, it was fully expected that the competition would be cancelled,” Ian continued.  “Unfortunately, this will mean that some of our players will miss out on the opportunity of representing their country at Under-18 level, but I am hopeful that these players will get their chance with the Under-23 side in next year’s programme.

“The coaching staff and I are looking forward to meeting up with both squads as soon as it is deemed safe to do so,” Ian added.  “The programme for next year is challenging but I know that the players within our squads are up for it.”

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