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Cardinals players ready for world cup

They are part of the 20-man SA squad selected for the world cup in Colombia.

The Boksburg Cardinals’ Ethan Foley (13) looks forward to wearing the green and gold when he represents SA at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U15 World Cup, in August, in Colombia.

Foley said he’s itching to stand alongside his teammates and belt out the national anthem before their opening match against Mexico on August 16.

“I’m looking forward to representing my country. It’s nerve-wracking but also exciting. It’s a big thing for me to wear the national colours and fight for SA,” he said.

Ethan Foley.

The youngster and his Cardinals teammate, Liam van der Westhuizen, are part of the 20-man travelling squad, while Caylum de Wet is a non-travelling reserve.

They were selected after an impressive domestic season, which culminated in the National Baseball Championships (NBC), where they helped Gauteng U15A to second place after losing their final to the Western Cape.

“I had a pretty good tournament at the NBC. I think my performances there, and my potential and love for the game, resulted in my selection for the world cup team,” Foley said.

Foley believes underdog SA has nothing to lose when they face giants like Chinese-Taipei and Mexico in group B, adding that the experience will be valuable for the team.

Caylum de Wet, Liam van der Westhuizen and Ethan Foley, along with Joshua Cook and Logan Gardener are the only players from Gauteng in the national squad. They are seen here with their coaches, Gareth Long, Braydon Bartle and Bruce Foley.

“We are preparing well, but it’s very nerve-wracking because it’s no longer minor baseball anymore. It’s now the big game, but we are on the right track.”

With a smile, Van der Westhuizen, who plays as a pitcher, expressed pride in representing the country, adding that he is grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m happy because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m grateful and looking forward to facing all the countries in our group,” he said.

The pitcher models his game around his idol, Paul Simmons, who, he said, was a big influence in his decision to become a thrower.

Liam van der Westhuizen.

“He pitches quickly and throws about 100mp/h (about 160km/h). As a pitcher, you must have the mechanics. You have to train hard and have strong leg muscles because all the power comes from your legs,” said Van der Westhuizen.

De Wet, part of the SA squad that participated in the U12 WBSC World Cup in Taiwan in 2022, said he’ll always be grateful for every opportunity to represent SA.

“I’m excited because representing the country is big for me. I’m nervous because the world cup is a big stage.”

Caylum de Wet.

The utility player said the experience of the players who were part of the U12 world cup two years ago would be advantageous and valuable in helping them prepare.

“A lot of the players haven’t played at that stage, so I feel it’s a big thing to have players with that experience going into the tournament,” he said.

The tournament will run from August 16 to 24.

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