THE Canberra Cavalry have drawn plenty of attention in the first half of the season on the back of the league’s hottest offence and sit behind only Melbourne at the top.
After falling short of last season’s ABLCS the Cavs are in a strong position to go one further and return to the postseason.
They start the second half of the season on the road to last-placed Perth and are still very much in control of their own fate.
What’s gone right
The players that needed to stand up have. Robbie Perkins has lifted his numbers rapidly, Kyle Perkins has enjoyed a fantastic return and Aaron Sloan has played a key role. The Cavs’ import hitters have also put up some impressive numbers and the league’s best offence has the right balance between locals and prospects.
What’s gone wrong
At times that offence has been much needed with Canberra’s pitching shaky. The Cavs’ ERA of 4.55 is ranked third in the league but they have got the fewest innings (82) out their starters and had games decided late. Canberra’s bullpen has picked up a league-high seven wins this season, despite boasting the fifth-ranked ERA (4.50).
Robbie Perkins has risen to the occasion in the absence of Jack Murphy. A year after batting .183 in 43 games the catcher leads the league with a .389 batting average to the halfway point of the season. The 22-year-old has driven in nine runs and hit two homers in 14 games. At home, including the Wollongong Classic, Perkins is hitting an incredible .471.
The Cavs surrendered meekly in their top-of-the-table clash with the Melbourne Aces. Canberra lost the series 3-1 and were outscored 16-5 at Melbourne Ballpark. It was a series which had a postseason feel to it and the Cavs’ offence failed to fire when needed.
Mike Reeves started the season hot and despite cooling a little in the past two series has been a key factor in Canberra sitting second. The Toronto Blue Jays’ prospect is hitting .286 in 18 games. The catcher is tied for first with five home runs and has batted in 15 runs while being reliable behind the plate. Robbie Perkins would also be right in contention.
What to watch for in the second half
Whether the Cavs can replicate their form at Narrabundah on the road. Like many ABL teams they are much more comfortable at home. Canberra has 12 of its last 20 on the road, where it is 2-6 so far this season. The Cavs’ offence is hitting a hot .334 at Narrabundah but just .217 on the road.
How would you rate the Cavs’ first half of the season? Comment below.
Follow author David Penrose on Twitter at @David_Penrose