HARD work and some international muscle have given Ipswich's Brisbane Bandits connection confidence heading into the new Australian Baseball League season.
Ipswich duo Josh Roberts and Andrew Campbell will help launch the Bandits' ABL campaign tonight at Newmarket's Holloway Field.
It is the first of four games against Adelaide to mark the start of the new season, one the Ipswich-based Bandits hope is a vast improvement on the last.
The Bandits finished bottom of the ladder, but Roberts believes they can break through for a first play-off appearance this time.
Roberts has captained the Bandits for the past two seasons and believes they have a stronger roster this time.
They have also taken a more professional approach to training.
"I think our imports are a little better this year," Roberts said.
"I think their hitting is going to strengthen our line-up.
"Last year our imports didn't fire and we didn't either."
Roberts has high hopes for his own form with the bat after a disappointing season last summer by his own high standards.
"We've done a lot more bp (batting practice) this year," he said. "So hopefully that means more runs.
"We've had an off-season program this year, the same as all the Australian guys overseas.
"We're trying something new so hopefully we can lift a bit from the last two years.
"There's been a lot of hard work and a few technical things we're trying to fix."
For Roberts that means some work on his swing, as well as trying not to hit the ball into tomorrow each time he bats.
He hopes it can earn him another All Stars shirt for the annual game in December, which he is yet to miss in the previous four seasons of the competition.
Campbell's season last time out was in contrast to Roberts.
He was in fine form until he broke a hand batting mid-season.
"I had five weeks off and by the time I was back hitting it was too late," he said. "I'm happy to get through this season injury free and help the team win games."
Campbell is equally enthused by the Bandits roster this season.
"I think the fact we've got some big sticks this year means we've got a lot of home runs in us, which we haven't in the past," he said.
"We lost a lot of one-run ball games last season."
Playing with purpose
HOME runs excite the fans and wins games. But Josh Roberts knows it is doing the basics well that can have a major impact on how well a team performs over a season.
"It's the little things," he said. "Like good base running and making the easy plays.
"It's the same as everything.
"As soon as errors creep in players drop their heads.
"If you do the easy things well, things seem to go your way."
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