Mackay softballer ends junior career a National champion
WHILE Riley James attempted to win the third consecutive trophy for the Queensland Under-18 softball team, an undefeated foe threatened to end his junior rep career on a loss.
The Mackay softballer captained the U18 Queensland team to the grand final of the National Championship last week, where they came up against competition favourite New South Wales.
The blue bloods were dominant in the regular rounds, winning all 12 of their games and amassing 127 runs while allowing only 20 against them.
Queensland fell to the NSW team four times in the competition, including a devastating 21-1 loss.
Still, James said when he approached finals the sense of duty gave his men their second wind.
The U18 Queensland side was hunting its fourth consecutive National Championship win, and James was chasing his third.
“We knew they had a good team; strong pitching and good batters,” he said.
James said it was lucky Queensland had recruited a secret weapon in the form of speed pitcher Lincoln Walk, who returned from a two-year hiatus from the sport because of a fractured back.
“He threw one of his best games; at least the ones I’ve seen him play,” James said.
The two sides were stuck in a deadlock for the first four innings before Max Spencer’s double got the defending champions a 1-0 lead in the fifth.
“There was excellent fielding from both teams, especially us,” James said.
Two more Queensland players touched the home plate to give them a 3-0 lead, which they maintained until the end thanks to Walker’s striking ability.
James was selected into the Australian Junior Steelers to play in the 2020 U18 Men’s World Cup to be held in Palmerston North, New Zealand from February 22.
It marks James’ last junior representative appearance before he moves on to the open division.
The Mackay athlete gained selection to play in the Queensland open men’s team for the first time in January next year.
While Australian selection in the men’s division is his next goal, James said he was happy to use his first run as experience for future selections.