Musketeers load all bases for title shot
WHAT a difference a year can make.
Twelve months ago, the Ipswich Musketeers were languishing at the bottom of the Brisbane Major A League baseball ladder with no hope of making a finals appearance.
Fast forward to this weekend and the Musketeers are preparing to host a home ground semi-final against the Windsor Royals, before hopefully ending a premiership drought dating back to 2001.
Thanks to some key signings and a few returning players, Musketeers have dominated all season. The Ipswich side will enter the finals starting tonight as the team to beat despite not having won a grand final in 15 years.
Former second baseman Jon Campbell played in four consecutive grand finals for the Musketeers in the 1980s.
Now the Musketeers club president, Campbell will watch his son and Brisbane Bandits outfielder Andrew Campbell take his own shot at a premiership title.
"To go from second last to the top team in the competition this season has been a great improvement," Campbell said.
"We haven't won a premiership since 2001 and I think the last time we finished (the season) first was back in '89.
"It's good for the club to host a home semi-final and we're trying to get as many of our junior players along to cheer the guys on this weekend."
Musketeers will host the Royals at Tivoli Sporting Complex in a best of three semi-finals, with the first game to begin at 7pm tonight.
Musketeers can book a home grand final and a week break if they can continue their winning form against the second-placed Royals.
Campbell is confident the Musketeers have the right combination of players to go all the way.
"We have had an influx of players since last year and brought in a couple of American exports who have provided some depth to the team," he said.
"Everyone has gelled really well and the chemistry is right between the players. They'll be feeling pretty confident going into Friday night's game."
Last year it was the younger sides who enjoyed the most success for the Musketeers with the under 20s, under 16s and under 14s all securing a premiership.
All three will attempt to go back-to-back this season with the under 20s finishing the regular season at number one, under 16s in second place and the under 14s the top side from both North and South competitions.
Campbell said the continued success of the club's junior sides were crucial in the Musketeers aim to return to the top division competition.
"Last year we won all three grades and now we have the opportunity to do the same again this year," he said.
"We are feeling pretty confident we can take out a few finals.
"It's all about our juniors and the numbers - it's never been a question of ability, we just need to meet the criteria and that's always been our goal we are working really hard on."
The junior semi finals begin at the Tivoli Sporting Complex tomorrow morning from 10.15am (U14), followed by U16s at 12.30pm and U20s at 3pm.
To co-incide with Sunday's final, Musketeers are hosting a day for life members, past players and supporters.
The special get-together at the Tivoli Sporting Complex starts at 11.30am to catch up and cheer on the minor-premiership winning A-grade side.
Foundation members Ken "Pud'' Hogan and Neil "Tango" Bradley will be there along with former Olympic players Paul Coogan, Peter Vogler, Peter Wood and Kim Jessop.
Former players will form a guard of honour as the players enter the field chasing another shot at grand final glory.
Brisbane Major A League semi final: Ipswich Musketeers v Windsor Royals
- Where: Tivoli Sporting Complex
- When: Game 1 - tonight 7pm. Game 2: Sunday 1.30pm. Game 3 (if needed) Tuesday 7pm.