Australian baseball representative Andrew Campbell.
Australian baseball representative Andrew Campbell. Inga Williams

Ipswich allrounder chasing world goal

GYM junkie Andrew Campbell has never been one to trumpet his own sporting achievements playing in Australia and overseas.

The Ipswich baseball and rugby league player is often quietly spoken and a reliable performer who does the job under the radar.

However, chatting to the versatile Yamanto outfielder, his higher level ambitions quickly become apparent.

Having been chosen in the Australian team for next month's international Honkball tournament in The Netherlands, Campbell is focused on what exciting opportunities are ahead.

"This is a lead-up tournament for next year's World Baseball Classic,'' Campbell said, expecting to join ex-Major Leaguers and Japanese league professionals in the Aussie squad.

"It's a chance to play at a good level and get ready for that.

"Being competitive, you want to play at the highest level you can and I haven't done that yet so that's what I'm aiming for.''

Campbell, 24, is also eyeing a chance to play at the 2020 Olympics, if baseball is re-instated to the Summer Games.

The former Immaculate Heart primary school and St Edmund's College student previously represented Australia at under-19 level in 2010.

He was a member of the national team's silver medal-winning performance at the junior world championships in Canada.

"You just learn that pride in your country,'' Campbell said when asked what that meant to him.

Since then, he spent four seasons playing professionally for the Cleveland Indians in A-Ball, around his Australian Baseball League (ABL) commitments with the Brisbane Bandits.

One of his most satisfying moments was helping the Bandits win the 2015/16 ABL championships grand final series at Holloway Field in February.

Campbell played a vital role in the Bandits' 7-1 series-sealing win in the second game. The 183cm centrefielder made a decisive diving catch at the top of the sixth innings in the wet and tricky conditions, saving two runs and consolidating the Bandits' advantage.

Having been an Ipswich Musketeers player as long as he can remember, winning his first national title with the Bandits was a wonderful sporting feat.

It was his sixth season with the Bandits, where he's played 191 ABL games.

"I was very happy,'' he said. "I had a bit of a slow start because my style of play this year was a bit different. I'm usually a guy who hits the ball everywhere and get on bases and have a lot of productions . . . but this year I hit a lot more home runs, a lot more bigger hits.''

In the Netherlands from July 12-25, Campbell expects to play teams like Japan, Taiwan and Holland in the round robin tournament.

The outfielder nicknamed Soup (after Campbell's soup) is preparing well, having regular sessions with Bandits teammates like David Sutherland and coach David Nilsson.

The Ipswich baseballer is also doing some sprint training and working out in the gym, including in his family's shed.

One of his strengths is being able to bat left handed and throw right-handed, a skill he acquired from his dad Jon, a former Brisbane premiership-winning A-grade baseballer.

Having been selected in the Australian team, Campbell is fully focused on that sport, putting his rugby league on hold.

"A lot of the boys have been asking me to come back and play and I said 'no, I've got a plan','' the West End junior and Norths A grader said.

"I want to make a WBC team next year and I want to hopefully make the Olympics in 2020.''

In between his training, Campbell does shift work unloading shipping containers at Redbank.

But as he prepares for next month's international campaign, the Ipswich born and bred sportsman lives and breathes baseball.

"All I do is go to the gym and play baseball,'' he said with a grin reflecting his steely determination.

Valuable advice

NATIONAL championship-winning baseballer Andrew Campbell enjoys working with former Major Leaguer Dave Nilsson.

Campbell has spent the past three seasons learning from the Brisbane Bandits head coach, formerly with the Milwaukee Brewers from 1992-99.

"He loves coaching us,'' Campbell said.

"For him and myself and a few other Aussie guys that have been there a long time, he's kind of created this good environment where we try and relax a lot more than we used to, and have a bit more fun.''

While being professional on the field, Campbell said the fun off-field approach helped the team win.

Campbell said other good advice he received was to control your emotions, especially when the pressure is on.

"One thing is not getting too excited,'' he said. "It's such an up and down game emotionally and you just can't get yourself down too much, you can't get up.

"You've got to keep that level plateau and keep working hard.''



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