Why in-form batter has extra national league motivation
HAVING already hit five home runs in the national league this season, Brisbane Bandits batter Andrew Campbell is happy with his progress.
However, the Ipswich sportsman has plenty to keep him motivated as he heads to Melbourne for the Bandits' latest round of Australian Baseball League (ABL) matches.
The defending national champions received a timely reminder they are the team being hunted after Perth Heat won last weekend's series 3-1 in Brisbane.
Campbell, 26, said it was a tough workout after earlier series wins over Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney.
"It was a bit of a wake-up call,'' he said. "It stops you from coasting.
"We didn't beat Canberra comfortably but it can make you relax a bit. A couple of losses isn't a bad thing at all.''
Although the Bandits have won the past-three ABL titles, Campbell said Perth set a high standard this season.
"They (Perth) are a really good hitting side and they've got some quality imports,'' he said.
However, the left-handed batter and right arm thrower was encouraged by his form, regularly being the Bandits' lead-off hitter.
"I'm going all right. I'm loving it,'' the Ipswich Musketeers product said.
Campbell is also mindful the next Australian squad is being chosen after the ABL finals in late January.
Having been selected in recent Aussie squads, Campbell wants to keep his name in front of selectors for a training camp and ensuring series late next year. That is a Premier 12 tournament featuring international teams from around the world.
Preparing for a showdown against the Aces in Melbourne this weekend, Campbell was in the gym doing extra strength work.
Although beating Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra, the Bandits had another hiccup in New Zealand when they lost two games against new ABL franchise Auckland.
Campbell enjoyed the 3-1 result over Canberra despite giving up some runs while leading.
"It was good to beat Canberra. They're kind of our rival,'' he said.
"It's always a tough challenge going to Canberra and trying to win.
"We ended up getting three (wins) so that was probably the best series for us.''
In his ninth ABL season, Campbell said it was enjoyable facing new teams and players, including Japanese imports and better starting pitchers.
"It's probably better than last year,'' he said of the league.
"Everyone is developing every year so the Australian guys are getting better each year.''
Campbell expects Melbourne to provide more tough competition, especially with the Bandits having some injury concerns.
"We've got to regroup,'' he said. "We've still got our star players . . . but a couple of guys got a few knocks on the week-end.
"We're battling a little bit with numbers but that's something you have to overcome.''
That's one of the reasons he enjoys extra time in the gym.
"I just try to go a couple of times a week to get the soreness out,'' he said.
Musketeers on the rise
The Ipswich Musketeers head into the Christmas break in second spot with two games in hand.
Last Sunday's Greater Brisbane League match against Carina Redsox was washed out after the Musketeers won the Wednesday night encounter 9-1 at Tivoli.
In-form Canadian pitcher Fernando Beltran battled hard to set Musketeers up for a finals charge in the new year.
Musketeers are building momentum with 13 wins and seven losses.
Ipswich's next matches are hosting Windsor Royals on January 9 and 13 at Tivoli.