Bandits plot strike attack

The Brisbane Bandits will look to Ipswich’s Josh Roberts to lead the way when they begin their new Australian Baseball League campaign against Canberra.
The Brisbane Bandits will look to Ipswich’s Josh Roberts to lead the way when they begin their new Australian Baseball League campaign against Canberra. Claudia Baxter

BRISBANE'S Australian Baseball League season begins November 4 in Canberra with the Bandits' 2011-12 prospects heavily dependent on the hitting of Ipswich's Josh Roberts.

Roberts was the competition's fifth leading hitter last season and by far his team's standout with the bat.

A year older and wiser, Roberts believes his team is better equipped to improve on it's fifth place last season, beginning with four games in three days against the Cavalry in the nation's capital.

"We're looking pretty good," Roberts said.

"We're still a pretty young side but everyone has improved from last year so hopefully we'll do a bit better. Everyone's ready for the season to start.

"We've had a pretty long off-season so we're raring to go."

The Bandits had two wins against a Brisbane All-Stars team and Roberts has been clearing fences for the Ipswich Musketeers in the Greater Brisbane League.

"I wouldn't say we're better prepared," said Roberts of the reason for his confidence heading into the season opener.

"A lot of guys went overseas (in the off-season).

"Our hitting last year let us down a little bit but that comes with being a young side.

"This season we've got more confidence and experience."

Fellow Musketeers player Andrew Campbell is in the Bandits squad but has not been selected for the trip to Canberra.

"I think he'll get plenty of opportunities," Roberts said.

"He's just got to bide his time.

"He's only 19."

After taking three from four in Canberra last season, Roberts views the trip as as a good opportunity to start the new season on a positive note.

But he remains wary of a new-look Canberra outfit.

"They've got a lot of imports," he said. "So they're pretty much an unknown."

Despite the weight of responsibility he carries, Roberts is not over-analysing his role and will stick to what worked last season - keeping things simple.

"Hopefully I can build on last year," he said. "Pitchers might recognise me a bit more but hopefully I can still go okay."

It works both ways.

"Once you get to know a pitcher, you can look for certain pitches," Roberts said.

There's not much chance of that this weekend against Canberra's unfamiliar faces but that does not deter Roberts.

He won't complain if he struggles and his team comes away with a few wins.

Roberts' personal achievements are of secondary concern to the Bandits' welfare.

"My goals are the same as the team's - to try and get us to the playoffs," he said.

"We just missed out last time, which was pretty disappointing."

Roberts was also disappointed a post-season trial in Japan came to naught for himself earlier this year.

But you won't find him worrying about his own prospects while the Bandits are still alive.

"That's just getting ahead of yourself," he said. "You've just got to take it as it comes."

Topics:  baseball batting field league pitch strike

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