Baseball New Zealand Awarded Prestigious U15 Oceania Tournament

Baseball New Zealand has received a big boost of support for its programme following the awarding of the 2018 Baseball Confederation of Oceania (BCO) U15 Championships, generally regarded as the competition that identifies future stars of the sport in the Oceania region.

The championship event will be held from 18th to 21st January, and will be based in the Auckland region once again, though the venue has yet to be decided with several clubs expected to be interested in hosting the tournament.

“Hosting this event in New Zealand is another step in our development, and will allow our most talented young players to match up against the best from Australia and the Pacific Island—and at home,” said Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn, who added that the winner of the tournament will automatically quality for the U15 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Cup at a venue yet to be confirmed. “Being awarded the hosting rights to this tournament is another indication that they have full confidence in the growth of our programme and the strength of our staff and volunteers to host such an important tournament on the annual baseball calendar.”

New Zealand last hosted a regional BCO tournament in 2015 when the country hosted the best 16 to 18-year-old baseball players at Te Atatu South’s McLeod Park, with New Zealand’s roster featuring a half dozen future stars including Iowa’s Southeastern Community College shortstop Jason Matthews, Edmonds Community College (Washington USA) pitcher Jimmy Boyce, Chandler Gilbert (Arizona) pitcher Ben Thompson along with Cantabrian Matthew Boyce who now pitches at College of the Canyons in California, while infielder Joseph Kohlhase is heading to San Mateo College in California this year after appearing in the U18 side as a 16-year old.

According to Flynn, it is at this age grade that scouts and coaches begin to take notice of a player’s ability, attitude and desire to reach the next level, and the results will assist Baseball New Zealand in making recommendations for players to attend high performance and MLB-level training around the globe.

Once appointed, the team’s coaches will be travelling the country to host trials to select the best talent available, while also looking at Kiwi talent in Australia and around the world to ensure the best available baseball players represent the nation on this important team.

The final location and details of the coaching staff, trials and venue for the tournament will be announced shortly, according to Flynn. New Zealand has competed in two WBSC World Championships, in Mexico in 2014 and last year in Iwaki, Japan, but were granted wild cards due to recent growth and success by WBSC officials and were not forced to qualify through the Oceania region. 

 

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