Home run for Cardinals player

2016-02-03 06:00
PHOTO: Tania Sandberg Cardinals player, Robert Lewis Walker has been selected for the South African baseball team this season.

PHOTO: Tania Sandberg Cardinals player, Robert Lewis Walker has been selected for the South African baseball team this season.

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CARDINALS player, Robert Lewis Walker has done his team proud by again being selected for the South African baseball team this season.
Walker will join the SA U23 team on Thursday when they leave to compete in Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney, Australia.

The professional pitcher started playing baseball at the age of seven at Cardinals and has been with them ever since.
“I was initially selected for the KwaZulu-Natal U10 team and played in every age group upwards. At the age of 19, in 2011, I was signed professionally by the Cincinnati Reds,” Walker said.

He played for the Cincinnati Reds for two seasons - 2012 and 2013.
“We played South Africa in Jupiter, Florida. I then returned and played for the KZN seniors for two years and have now been selected for the SA team.”

Walker started pitching when he turned 15 and soon set himself apart by throwing harder than anyone else. At one stage he was considered the fastest pitcher in KwaZulu-Natal, and likely South Africa, at 146km/h.
“Currently there is a player that pitches at 94 miles per hour [151km/h],” Walker said.

But his overseas experience has taught him that throwing hard is not the end all and be all to baseball success.
“When you are older, you learn that accuracy is equally important. You need to throw hard, in the right area. Currently I train two hours every day with another player selected for the team,” he said.

Walker’s athletic build and strategic play are further attributes that set him apart.
“It is a mental game and you should know the other players. I have been taught one should be able to know the next five batters that are coming in and where to pitch to get them out,” he explained

Cardinals coach and chairman, Fritz Ackermann, said: “I only worked with Robert for a short period, but I can tell his success has mostly been his own doing. He is committed and works harder than anyone else. After practice, he often goes to the field with his friends.”

“When Robert was selected for the KwaZulu-Natal team, they peaked up his overall performance and an on interprovincial level, he has been the fastest pitcher at tournaments for three years now. The stint he did in the States developed him quite a bit. We don’t have the exposure and expertise they have. He has came back and just carried on working and whatever he does, he gives 110%” Ackermann said.

He added that baseball is Walker’s passion and he helps out other players when he sees them doing something himself.
“He has done extensive extra training and fitness since he being selected for the U23 SA tournament,” Ackermann added.

It is Walker’s dream to be signed up internationally, but feels the age gap has broadened and currently there are 16-year olds pitching at speeds exceeding 144km/h. Ackermann said he still sees opportunity for Walker.
“It is a better return on investment if the players are selected younger, but you can play baseball until 40 as long as you don’t get a serious injury. Robert should be getting to the 95 [miles] an hour mark with practice.”

Cardinals are affiliated to the International Baseball Federation and follow their guidelines.
They take players from six and in the U9 , U12, and U15 and open categories. For more information, contact Craig Dempsey at 083 700 4278 or kdempsey@cdoc.co.za

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