TWO sides that missed the ABL playoffs last season will look to make strong starts when Canberra hosts Brisbane in a four-game set.
Both sides were alive heading into the final round last season but failed to take their chances.
It left Brisbane without a post-season appearance in five years of the ABL, and saw the Cavs miss after back-to-back Championship Series.
The Cavalry look balanced this season with a number of returning imports and will be boosted in a few weeks by the arrival of Major League closer Aaron Thompson.
The Bandits have some talented locals but will need imports to stand up. Last year’s MVP Maxx Tissenbaum returns and promising Tampa Bay prospect Nick Ciuffo will be key players.
In a close league a fast start is important, but does not always translate to success. Last season the Bandits started 8-4 but lost six of their last seven. Canberra started 1-5.
Game 1: Friday, 7.00pm AEDT
Game 2: Saturday, 4.00pm AEDT
Game 3: Saturday, 7.00pm AEDT
Game 4: Sunday, 12.00pm AEDT
Expected starters (14/15 stats):
Bandits – Rick Teasley (0-0, -.–), Taylor Stanton (0-0, -.–), Justin Erasmus (0-1, 3.82), Josh Warner (0-0, -.–)
Cavalry – Brian Grening ( 4-4, 4.38), Wade Korpi (0-0, -.–), Steve Kent (0-0, 13.50), Aaron James Thompson (0-1, 6.14)
Players to watch:
Bandits – Logan Wade returns for his fourth season in Brisbane off an impressive off-season with Minnesota Twins affiliate Fort Myers Miracle. The 23-year-old infielder hit.258 in 99 games for the Miracle. Last season was a career year in Bandits’ colours, hitting .282, six home runs, and batting in 27 runs.
Cavalry – Robbie Perkins hit .302 for the Cavalry last season but struggled at home, managing only .242 at Narrabundah Ballpark. Listed as one of two catchers for the opening weekend it will be interesting to see how the 21-year-old is used over the course of the season, especially when Jack Murphy arrives.
What you need to know:
- The Cavalry were 4-1 against the Bandits last season in a rain-reduced series. They were 2-0 at home.
- Canberra were 4-1 at home in Friday games.
- The Cavalry were 10-12 at home last season. The Aces were the only other side below .500 at home.
- The Bandits were 7-15 on the road. Only the Aces (5-17) were worse.
The Cavalry struggled to make the Fort live up to its name last season and would be hopeful of starting the season with a bang. They have retained key imports again and although the Bandits added exciting prospects expect the home side to prevail.