Smith off to Israel with GB Under-23s
TEENAGER Josh Smith has injected some extra pace into his softballing career after earning a Great Britain Under-23s spot at the Ayelet International Games, writes Jamie Ingrouille.
The 19-year-old had been approached by a fellow GB player, whom he met through playing for the Futures slowpitch team in 2019, and he is now due to make a major fastpitch representation in Eilat, Israel, in early March.
The trials held by GB U23 head coach Ian Tomlin had put players through their paces – especially in the case of the now university-based Smith.
Unlike his parents, who previously played fastpitch for Guernsey, Smith is a newcomer to the format.
‘It’s a great opportunity and I feel extremely lucky to have been selected,’ he said.
‘The transition from slowpitch to fastpitch is a big one, I’m discovering. Whilst the fundamental skills are still the same, it’s a completely different game.
‘The pitch for starters is an adjustment, learning to see the ball quicker when batting – the pitches will probably be at a speed of 60mph. There’s stealing around the bags and also the ability to bunt the ball to try and advance your players.
‘I’ve been lucky enough to watch both my parents play fastpitch growing up but unfortunately the game died in the island mainly due to a lack of pitchers.
‘Sadly I was never a part of this era but was able to compete in a local one-off fastpitch tournament with my dad.’
Smith has thrived in the domestic slowpitch game in both the mixed and men’s leagues, going on to represent Guernsey and GB Futures.
To help with the transition, Smith completed an eight-hour training session in Coventry where past GB professional players and coaches attended to give tips to aid players’ development.
While back on island over the Christmas period, he has been training with his dad, facing the pitching machine the Guernsey Softball Association has loaned them to assist with his preparations.