Seventeen-year state title drought finally broken
IT TOOK a "special team” of girls for Bevan Baker to record his first state championship win in 17 years.
The Met West under 12 manager, alongside coach Janelle Hicks, have had some fantastic sides go close in the past two decades.
But at Redlands, and with the pressure of expectation not against them, the 2017 version went one better than its predecessors.
"This is the first time a Met West U12 team have won it,” the Churchill State School teacher said.
"We've come close a couple of times over the years with some really good teams, but just couldn't quite get there.
"This one was very special.”
The Met West girls, boasting seven Ipswich players in the squad of 12, won 10 of their 11 matches.
Their only loss came by one run to an impressive Sunshine Coast outfit.
The true dominance of the team was on full display in the final, when against a traditionally strong Capricornia side, they posted 11 runs in the first innings on their way to a comfortable 13-0 result.
Although he knew the team was a quality outfit, Baker admitted even he was surprised at just how impressive his young side was.
"We knew we had a good team,” Baker said.
"Our only concern was we didn't know if the batting would be up to scratch, but boy did the girls prove us wrong.
"They were just a very coach-able bunch of girls, and a tight group too.
"This was a very special team, and it was a big deal to finally win at last.
"(To win) meant a lot to us. We've been there a long time, and you starting thinking is it ever going to happen.
"This made up (for all the losses) and more.”
Baker sung the praises of his long-time partner Hicks, who he labelled "an amazing coach” and someone who helped nurture a strong, supportive culture within the group.
"She's always done an extremely great job as coach,” Baker said.
"We've had a lot of girls coached by her in the past come back and help because they've loved their time with her.
"Every team that has gone away has improved drastically under her coaching, she's an amazing coach.”
The icing on the cake for Baker and Hicks was the inclusion of two Ipswich girls in the Queensland side.
Brooke Needham and Amelia Griffin will travel to Adelaide in December to contest the Pacific School Games.
"Brooke has been with the team for the last three years, and Amelia has come along in leaps and bounds since last year,” Baker said.
"They are both just very driven, dominant and consistent. They were good leaders in the team as well.
"With their attitude and desire, I can see them both having a future in softball.”
Brooke was the stand out pitcher across the tournament, and formed a deadly combination with catcher Amelia.
Baker expects the duo to be the starting pitcher and catcher for Queensland in November.
"We've always had about a third of the side come back,” Baker said when discussing the prospects of next year's group.
"We have some young, talented girls who will be around for a couple of years.
"It has been a pleasure to work with this group.”