U-12 team raise their game
Young baseball players all set for overseas competition, writes TYLER ROODT
AN ALL-STAR line-up of young baseball players from all over the country will soon be heading to Tainan, in Taiwan, to show the world South Africa’s prowess on the pitch.
The South African national under-12 baseball team, consisting of players from the Western Cape and Gauteng, will compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) 2017 World Cup at the end of next month.
The opening round will see them compete against teams from Chinese Taipei, the Czech Republic, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. The 18 players were hand-picked from their respective provincial teams by various coaches.
National assistant coach Quinton Amos said: “They have all played under their own provincial banners… but never on a national level.”
Weekend Argus chatted with two players ahead of their trip. David Botes, 12, from Bellville, and Zach Moses, 11, from Kensington both said they were extremely excited about going abroad.
“This has been my dream ever since I started playing baseball,” Zach said, adding that the two-day selection camp was a gruelling process.
For David, while the constant practice sessions took a strain on him, he persevered. “Even if you go down in the game, the game isn’t over yet,” he said.
The team’s head of delegation, Rae Ripepi, who will accompany the team to Taiwan, said it was easier for the under-12s to focus on practice and the game, compared to older players. “There are no girls to chase, so fights never happen,” Ripepi said.
She said two previous under-12 players, international pro-baseballers, Gift Ngoepe and Dylan Unsworth, were role models.
Ngoepe recently became the first African-born player to play in the Major League, with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ripepi said the under-12 team had much to be proud of. “To play on an international level before even reaching one’s teenage years is no small achievement,” she said.
The team are due to leave on July 25.
David Botes, second from right in the first row, is heading to Taiwan with his baseball team.