Andrew Kirkpatrick keen to build on ACT's softball legacy
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Andrew Kirkpatrick keen to build on ACT's softball legacy

The inevitable question hanging over every dynasty is always "how long can it last?" Andrew Kirkpatrick hopes this one can last just a little longer.

The towering left-handed pitcher and devastating batter will lead the ACT 89ers in their hunt for redemption at the Softball Australia national championships at the Hawker International Softball Centre beginning on Saturday.

Coach and player for the ACT 89ers Andrew Kirkpatrick is eyeing another title.

Coach and player for the ACT 89ers Andrew Kirkpatrick is eyeing another title.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

It is their long-awaited chance to get their hands on the John Reid Shield after it was pried from their grasp by NSW last summer - the same side the ACT will open their campaign against on Saturday afternoon.

The ACT has won 15 titles since the first instalment of the national championships in 1984 - 10 have come in the past 13 years.

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Star player-coach Kirkpatrick has been there for every step of the dynasty having played at the open level since 2002, and rarely has he been so desperate to hoist the silverware.

"It would mean something special after losing it, to win it back at home would be a big accomplishment," Kirkpatrick said.

"With a newer side, after the last four years we’re a lot younger than we used to be. It would be good for those younger guys to win the title again.

"We’re shaping up pretty good, we’ve been training quite hard. We lost last year in the final so we’ve got something a little bit more to train for now.

"Normally we’re going in as defending champions but we’re obviously trying to win back something that has been taken away from us.

"Obviously NSW [will be strong again] but Queensland are going to be pretty strong this year. From this team I saw on paper the other day, they look like they should do pretty well."

Hawker International Softball Centre will come to life this week.

Hawker International Softball Centre will come to life this week.Credit:Katherine Griffiths

The 89ers boast a similar squad to the one that featured in last year's tournament. But there is one name that leaps off the page when 34-year-old Kirkpatrick glances at the ACT's team list.

His name is Klaas Pichelmann - a youngster that excels as much in the pool as he does on the field, and once joked to the ACT Fastpitch Softball League's social media accounts that one of the best things about softball was "cheap food".

"He’s got a lot of speed which is something we need with our guys, we’re an old team so a bit of enthusiasm, youth and speed is going to help us," Kirkpatrick said.

"We had a changeover about four or five years ago, we lost a lot of senior guys, but for the last four or five years we’ve had the same group which has done pretty well.

Andrew Kirkpatrick

Andrew KirkpatrickCredit:Dion Georgopoulos

"We're looking forward to it, hopefully we can get some support out there."

SOFTBALL AUSTRALIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Saturday January 13 - Friday January 19: Men's national softball championships at Hawker International Softball Centre. Click here for the full fixture.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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