By David Searle*
AS the Raine & Horne Hobart Summer Baseball League (HSBL) reaches the season halfway point, here is a brief look at how each team is faring so far.
Banjos Orioles Orange (16-points from nine games)
The Orioles Orange are a serious threat for the title with Jimmy Clout and Andrew Dykes pitching well, Linton Burgess a danger on the base-paths and consistent batting from Lyndon Hutchinson.
Their standing has been achieved with the limited availability of Stuart Robins, so his expected return in the New Year will make them even harder to beat.
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: Stuart Robins 0.833, Andrew Dykes 0.625, Lyndon Hutchinson 0.583, Linton Burgess 0.500, Jimmy Clout 0.444.
Dragons (14-points from eight games)
Tim Holland and Brendan Adams continue to be two of the premier pitchers in the league and their health will be crucial for the Dragons in 2017.
The Dragons’ defence is second to none, their batting line-up strikes fear into opposing pitchers and with the likely return of Paul Johns and Riley Schmidt in the New Year, they will only get stronger.
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: Michael Blake 0.538, Brendan Adams 0.533, Shane Davies 0.462, Chris Harris 0.455, Dean Chamberlain 0.435.
Banjos Orioles Black (11-points from nine games)
The Orioles Black are the only side to defeat the Dragons this season and with Nick Fenton constantly providing highlight reels on defence, they will be up there come time for finals.
First-year player Brad Mabb has also taken to baseball like a duck to water and will be a solid candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Chris Chalker continues to pitch his heart out and will be crucial to the Orioles Black going forward.
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: Nick Fenton 0.600, Rod Saxby 0.571, Chris Chalker 0.533, Brad Mabb 0.467, Ryan Fenton 0.375.
Eastern Athletics (10-points from nine games)
With more than a full team to select from for the first time in several seasons, the Athletics have marched up the standings.
With the expected return from injury of Andrew “Sully” Sullivan and the return to pitching of young gun Sam Morrison in the New Year, they are a real threat for the title.
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: James Wolfe 0.769, Andrew Sullivan 0.714, John Hayes 0.647, James Jubb; 0.632, Jesse Warburg 0.538.
Hotel Soho Hobart Blue Jays (seven-points from nine games)
The Blue Jays were unlikely to lose to the Dragons and have been in most games they have competed.
It has been great to see veteran Warwick Johnston back on the diamond, but the Jays’ defence has hurt them at crucial times and this will need to improve if they are to contend in the finals.
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: Ian Wood 0.636, Josh Byrne 0.556, Brad Howlett 0.500, Evan Toms 0.500, Zac Shutt 0.471.
Northern White Sox (two-points from eight games)
The White Sox have been their own worst enemy as they continue to do well in most games, only to fail to take advantage of runners on base.
A couple of recent injuries could prove decisive as they try to rally to make the finals in the New Year.
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: Richie Law 0.467, Dean Vervaart 0.444, David Searle 0.368, David Brooks 0.357, Chris Cooper 0.357.
Raiders (zero-points from eight games)
The Raiders have experienced an unprecedented number of injuries in the first half of the season, but on the plus side, they hope to have most of them back in the New Year.
Their first game is also against the Eastern Athletics, who the Orioles defeated in the corresponding game last season for their first-ever win – will history repeat itself?
Leading performers in batting average to round eight: Shawn Batchelor 0.667, Ryan Day 0.600, Stuart Smith 0.533, Steve Galloway 0.500, Lachlan Fieldhouse 0.429.
*David Searle is the president of Baseball Tasmania
Caption: Can Andrew Dykes’ Banjos Orioles Orange challenge the Dragons for this season’s title? Photo credit: Naomi Searle.