December 09, 2022

Article at Chris on Authory

Claxton Shield celebration further motivates Saupold


Perth Heat will celebrate WA baseball's Claxton Shield history this weekend and for Warwick Saupold, what it does is only add to his desire to help get the club back to that championship glory in the ABL.

Western Australia won its first Claxton Shield back in 1952 and the 70-year anniversary of that success will be commemorated this Saturday night at Empire Ballpark as the Heat's series against the Sydney Blue Sox.

The Heat will be wearing a special commemorative jersey for the occasion replicate what was worn back in 1952 and featuring more than 500 player names of WA and Heat players to play in the Claxton Shield.

Heat pitcher Saupold has won championships in the ABL back before his Major League Baseball stint with the Detroit Tigers, and he can't wait for the Claxton Shield weekend as it builds on the passion to bring another title back to Perth.

"It has been a while and we got real close a couple of years ago, and fell just short but I think we've got the group right now to do it," Saupold said.

"We know we do and we hit a bit of a speed bump last weekend and the boys understand that we have got a good club. We've got a good group with a couple of young guys who are stepping up to the plate like Bjay Cooke, Jordie Power, Jaxon Limpus and Riley Spring. 

"They are guys who are filling the void for a couple of injuries and playing good baseball so it's exciting to have a young crop of players on top of our good imports, and veteran leaders like Tim Kennelly and Peter Kozma to hold down the fort. 

"It's a good group of guys and we are really eager to taste success again so the drive is there to push for this next one and I feel like we're not far away. Hopefully we can get hot at the right time and start putting some wins together."

The Heat and West Australian baseball have a remarkable history of Claxton Shield success and for someone like Saupold, he embraces that past glory and makes sure that the new faces to the club are made fully aware of it too.

"We try and educate guys. When the imports all came to town they went through the museum so they have an understanding of how much history there is," Saupold said.

"We take pride in our history and us local guys we've dreamt our whole lives of putting on the Heat jersey at some point as a junior coming through. So to see the older faces of guys who put on the uniforms so long ago, it does it give you tingles down the spine. 

"To be such a successful organisation, I was lucky enough to be part of multiple championships so to see those guys again makes it so nice. It gets the camaraderie back because we are a family down there. 

"We do a lot of things off the field together and the guys I have played with who have retired or moved on, to see them come back makes it a special feeling to catch up with them. I love the Claxton Shield weekend, I look forward to it every year and hopefully we get to see a lot of faces of past players there."

As for the series this weekend at Empire Ballpark starting Friday night against the Sydney Blue Sox before two games on Saturday and another on Sunday, Saupold is fully aware how important it is for the Heat to bounce back after last week's loss at home to Auckland Tuatara.

"They've had a tough start to the year but they are well coached and Tony Harris knows what he's doing," Saupold said. 

"He has been a very successful coach and his philosophy will be to tell his team they have nothing to lose and to embrace playing in Perth. 

"We're still going to have to play our best baseball and it's a funny sport where anybody can win on their day. We've been reminded that a few years ago they swept us over here when they also weren’t going so well. 

"We won't let that happen again and the boys are really eager to make amends for last week, and move on to get some momentum moving forward to the next couple of weeks with back to back road trips against two of the hottest teams. 

"We need to get some confidence going into those two weeks against Brisbane and Adelaide."