Outfielder Sam Reale was taken aback when he was named as the lone Victorian in the all-tournament team at the under-19 National Softball Championships last month.
The shocks have continued, with the Werribee product named in the Australian Junior Steelers squad, which will form the bulk of the team that will feature at the WBSC Junior Men’s World Championships in Canada next year.
“I was so stunned when they called my name out,” said Reale of the acknowledgement of his performances for the Big V in the nationals at Redlands in Queensland.
“Everything that I got asked to do, I did well, and the selectors that were there saw that.”
Reale was representing Victoria on the national stage for just the second time.
What makes his achievement all the more special is that he is a bottom-age player.
The 17-year-old was able to take it up to the best 19-year-old softballers in the country.
“It was only my second nationals tournament, so I was still very nervous,” Reale said.
“There were players two years above my age at the tournament.”
Reale is like money in the out-field.
He is good under the high ball and his speed allows him to cover a lot of territory to track down ground balls.
Fielding alone does not earn all-tournament selection, so he complemented that with an outstanding batting average exceeding the .400 mark.
As the lead-off hitter, getting on base is Reale’s goal – and he does that regularly with a mixed bag of tricks.
“I’m more of a contact hitter, so I’ll hit the singles, doubles and triples – I’m not so much of a power hitter,” he said.
“I’m not hitting the ball over the fence often, but I’m still able to do it.
“One of my favourites is dropping down a bunt and trying to beat the throw out.
“I’m quick, so I like to challenge people and their throws and speed.”
Reale, five years a member of the Werribee Softball Association and two years a baseballer with the Werribee Giants, will be given every opportunity to state his case for inclusion in Australia’s junior world championships team.
The Werribee resident will be part of the Junior Steelers elite training camp and Softball Australia International Friendship Series in Redlands from June 30 and will be looking to put his best foot forward, with selection for Canada strongly weighted in favour of those who perform well at this series.
“To get selected in the squad is a massive honour,” Reale said.
“It’s really exciting, but scary as well, given that I was the only one from Victoria.
“I feel like there’s going to be a lot of pressure because they’re [the selectors] going to be on us like bees on honey. I enjoy having the pressure on me. I feel like it makes me perform better.”
Reale, a Year 12 student at MacKillop College, thanked his mum, Tanya, who was recently appointed to the Softball Victoria board, for her backing in his sports endeavours.
“She’s been behind me non-stop,” he said while also acknowledging the work of his coaches, Will Tangaroa, Chris Holiday and Shane Goodall.
“She’s impacted everything.”
Beyond the under-19 softball world championships, Reale wants to earn a scholarship to a US college and could a pursue a career in baseball.
Reale is the March nominee of the Don Deeble Rising Star award.
The award recognises young athletes from the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at state and/or national levels. It is hosted by the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club and
Reale will receive $1000, donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club, and other prizes, to assist him in achieving his sports goals.