Bellarine baseball ready to bear new upgrades

January 10, 2022 BY

Isaac O'Brien, Hamish Connell, Nyah O'Brien, Matt Connell and Kylie O'Brien sitting in their home dugout at Wallington Reserve. Photos: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT.

IT HAS taken almost four years, but the Bellarine Bears will now be able to upgrade several facilities of its club thanks to the recently announced city’s 2021/22 Community Grants programs.

The Wallington-based baseball club will receive $350,000 of the $3.1 million dollars that has been allocated in this year’s round of Community Infrastructure Grants.

The funds will be earmarked for the development of fields, fencing, dugouts, the scorers’ box, and suitable lighting at
Wallington Recreation Reserve.

The Bears’ vice president Matt Connell had played a large role in obtaining the grant from council, outlining it was time for the club to make some upgrades to its home field.

“Our facilities frankly are somewhat falling apart,” Connell said.

“We have had significant growth within the club, particularly in the areas of women’s baseball and our junior program, which this grant will allow us to cater to our growing numbers.

“We really try to emphasise grassroots baseball and the interesting thing about the Bears is that we put in our first women’s team in the 2018 winter competition and at that time it was the region’s only women’s baseball team.

“This side actually competed against men’s teams in the lower men’s leagues when it first started, but now there is a functioning women’s league, and the Bears is now a proud founding member of that competition – a good indicator of where the club is heading.”

Bellarine holds the moniker of reigning club champions of the Geelong Baseball Association following the most recent uninterrupted season back in 2019 where both its A grade and A reserve teams both took out premierships in their respective season.

 

Bellarine Bears head coach Matt Connell standing by home plate at Wallington Reserve.

The Bears also fielded seven junior team in the most recent winter season and harbours a growing tee-ball competition.

Connell mentioned that the timing of receiving this grant was beneficial as it allows the club to get preparations started for construction throughout the year before building commences at the end of the winter season from October onwards.

“We would love to get development going during the next offseason as construction won’t actually interfere with the cricket club’s operations as we share the reserve,” Connell said.

“Nevertheless, we remain very, very excited and grateful for the faith being shown in us by the council.

“They are obviously taking our little club out here in the country very seriously by investing in us.”

Connell remains hopeful to have Senator Sarah Henderson throw out a ceremonial first pitch, given the Bears have already had MP Lisa Neville, MP Libby Coker and Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher take on the honour in the past.

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