Josh aims to take on the world
ON THE cusp of earning a shot to play in next year's ISF Junior Men's World Championship, Hervey Bay's Josh Hartwig attacked the Softball Australia International Friendship Series with everything he had.
It was the ultimate display of crash-bang-wallop hitting from the powerful right-hander, who experienced the joy of a home run - four times.
At 16, Hartwig was one of the youngest members in the Australian under-19 men's squad that was divided into two teams for the tournament.
But he was far from overawed, taking out the male batting award and helping his side, Australia Gold, finish runner-up.
Summing up his performance at the Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney, Hartwig admitted he couldn't have played much better.
"I thought I did really well," he said.
"I didn't expect to get the batting award, but at the end I just concentrated on my batting and tried to do well for the team."
Hartwig, who credits his father Dean and local coach Damien Maahs for his rapid rise, blasted four home runs, including a three-run homer against the Australian under-17 team to propel his side to a 7-4 victory.
Eleven months ago, he smashed seven home-run bombs in the under-17 boys state championships in Noosa, but the Urangan State High School student felt his batting had reached the next level.
"It surprised me," he said.
"I've been working really hard and I seem to be hitting it well."
Hartwig's coach at the International Friendship Series agreed.
"Josh has the ability to stay calm under pressure," Darrin Hebditch said.
"Josh has surprising power for one so young as he still has to grow into his body."
Hebditch, who is also one of the Australian selectors, believed Hartwig's performance was something he could build on as he targets a spot in next year's Australian world championship team.
"This has obviously lifted Josh in the pecking order, but the selection tournament in January which is the under-19 nationals in Canberra, will give every athlete the opportunity the secure a place in the team," he said.
Trying desperately not to get ahead of himself, Hartwig's first priority is performing strongly at the under-19 men's state championship in Hervey Bay in October.