Dutton's dream season
IT IS fair to say Wade Dutton is enjoying a fruitful 2018-19 baseball season.
His Brisbane Bandits topped the North-East Division of the ABL and played off for a record fourth-consecutive grand final spot at the weekend.
Alongside Bandits teammate Andrew Campbell, he has been named as part of a 35-man Australian squad set to travel to Canberra next month for an intensive training camp ahead of Premier12 international tournament.
Oh, and his hometown Ipswich Musketeers are currently sitting pretty in second on the GBL ladder and appear primed for their own finals glory.
"I speak to my old man and Brad (Dutton) pretty much every time they play. We've got a pretty good team, they're playing some good baseball at the moment the Muskies,” Dutton said.
With not much longer until the ABL season wraps the second baseman said he was looking forward to getting back in Musketeers colours alongside Campbell to help the Ipswich ball club to a GBL final.
"I'll be playing,” he said. "I think there's only two weeks left (of ABL) and then I'll be open to play.
"I'll have other commitments with the Australian camp and whatnot, but other than that I'll be there wearing the red, white and blue.”
Despite enjoying a stellar few seasons as part of the Bandits and Australian team, Dutton has never forgotten his roots.
"I've grown up with a few of those boys playing in rep teams and whatnot with them,” he said of his Muskets teammates.
"Plus the old man played for them back in the day as well, so there's some family history there. I love wearing that uniform, and I can't wait to get back and start playing with the boys.”
After "a few ups and downs early on”, the reigning back-to-back-to-back ABL champions piled on six straight wins to top their Division and again feature at the pointy end of the season.
Dutton is confident the team has what it takes to again lift the Claxton Shield.
"We've found a bit of a groove the last few weeks, things are starting to fall into place,” he said.
"We've got the team to do it. It's just about going out there and doing what we normally do day-in, day-out.”
The Bandits thumped their Canberra rivals in Friday's first meeting to the tune of 18-1.
The Cavalry returned fire on Saturday winning 8-6 to take the series to a deciding game three.
This season is the first under the new conference format, with the ABL taking a leaf out of the book of American sports.
Dutton has appreciated the addition of two new franchises - Geelong/Korea and Auckland Tuatara - and with it a steady rise in competition.
"It's been different going to New Zealand, and getting to Geelong over the weekend was cool too,” he said.
"It's a really good format that will only get bigger and better.
"The pitching this year has been a lot harder (to deal with), speaking to a few hitters here and there. (The competition) is getting a lot stronger, you've got to put in 100% for a win.”
As for the upcoming Australian training camp, Dutton hopes to impress those who matter and cement a place in the team ahead of an exciting baseball calendar over the next 24 months.
"The next few years will be big for Australian baseball. We have the Olympics, the Premier12 and WBC as well,” Dutton said.
"I'm going on 32 at the moment, so I've still got a few more competitive years in me. I don't feel old, I'm still enjoying showing up to the baseball field each day.”