3 November 2023: Fresh off their World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-23 Men’s Softball World Cup championship-winning run earlier this year, the University of Canberra’s Nathan Lynch and Matt Harrow will once again don the green and gold, this time for the men’s open team.
The pair, who are both studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation at the University, have been called up to play for reigning World Cup champions Australia in the Oceania Qualifier of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup in American Samoa from 9 to 11 November.
“Being part of the U-23 World Cup was special, especially since it was the inaugural tournament,” said Mr Harrow.
“Coming back home, it was back to reality for a while, but then we had to ramp up the preparations for the open men’s World Cup, so we’ve just been trying to get as much ball time as possible,” he said.
With the quick turnaround from debuting in U-23 in April to being selected for the senior team for his next major tournament, Mr Lynch has had to adjust quickly. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to look far for guidance in his preparations for American Samoa.
“To have an actual opportunity to step up and play in the open is a big challenge, but having Matt around – who’s played at that level before – and the other veterans in the team, has been a big help, as they’ve allowed me to soak up their experiences,” said Mr Lynch.
The team that will represent World No. 2 Australia in American Samoa features only three holdovers – Mr Harrow being one of them – from the 2022 World Cup winning squad. But expectations are high as the team embarks on the first stage of its journey towards the 2025 World Cup Finals. The duo is excited to contribute on the field and show the competition that it’s still a formidable squad.
“It’s a different make-up for this team – we have a lot of debutants and guys who aren’t necessarily big names yet, who have a lot to prove to Oceania, and eventually, the world. We’re excited to go there and get the job done and qualify for the next stage,” said Mr Harrow.
“I’m just looking forward to playing my best, being myself, and just being in the moment. We have a great bunch of boys and we’re going there to do a job and prove to everyone that we’re still a top-quality team,” said Mr Lynch.
As they embark on another major tournament, Mr Harrow and Mr Lynch reflect on the privilege of being able to represent Australia on the world stage, and also on the challenges of playing a non-mainstream sport.
“I play for the love of the game and all these opportunities and accolades are just bonuses. I want to be able to play for as long as possible, and it’s not every day that you get to play for your country,” said Mr Harrow.
“I just want to go out there and make the most out of this opportunity and keep learning and developing as I go.
“You never know when work is going to take over, or when life will throw a curveball and your time’s up. I just want to take every moment, every day, and be the best possible version of myself so that I’ll have no regrets in the end,” said Mr Lynch.
The WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Oceania Qualifier will be held in American Samoa from 9-11 November. The tournament will feature the host team, Australia and New Zealand in a double round robin tournament with two available spots for the Group Stage in 2024.