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Locals take aim at New Zealand

Tuesday, 31st March, 2009

They're not expecting a title win but two local baseballers selected to play in the Australian Provincial Championships next month do have one goal. "It would be really good to beat New Zealand," declared Garred Birrell, who along with Jarred Paull has been included in the 17-man South Australian side. SA is one of six teams - including New Zealand - competing in the provincial championships which will be held at Baseball Park in Perth over eight days from April 11.

The other teams are NSW, Victoria, WA and the ACT. Given the tenuous state of the local competition, their selection in the side is an impressive feat, and comes by way of Broken Hill's affiliations with SA Baseball. They were picked after impressive displays at last year's State Championships in Adelaide. A third local, David Jackmann, was also selected but is unable to play. At 29, Birrell will be one of the most senior players in the team. It will be the Eagles player's third nationals and the first for 22-year-old Paull, who plays for the Redsox.

"I'll be one of the oldest guys there; it's mostly a young team," said Birrell, who described himself and Paull as "utility" players. While a win against the New Zealanders is expected, Birrell said SA would struggle against most of the other so-called country teams, particularly NSW and Victoria. He said as long as NSW was able to draw from competitions played in Newcastle and the Illawarra, and in Victoria's case Geelong, smaller states like SA would continue to struggle.

"We struggle because these other teams have far superior competitions to choose from," Birrell said. "We'll still win two or three games but we definitely won't be near the top." But winning isn't everything for Birrell, who is looking forward to playing under lights against some of the best players in the country. "It's a really good trip, even if you lose you have a good time."

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