Brad Oliver’s in a great state

Brad Oliver’s softball career is taking off. Picture Damjan Janevski

Sunbury’s Brad Oliver picked up a mitt and bat just 12 months ago – but you wouldn’t know it if you watched him play.

Oliver has had a meteoric rise from a softball rookie to one of the state’s best young talents.

He will represent Victoria at the under-17 national titles in Canberra early next year.

Softball was not on the horizon for the 16-year-old until a mate asked him whether he wanted a game last year.

“My mate Jai got me into softball,” Oliver said. “He asked me if I wanted to play. I didn’t think I’d go from starting to play softball to being part of a state team in 12 months.”

Oliver didn’t even know he was on the radar of Victorian selectors.

“I played for Keilor Park in a tournament [under-19 state championships] and people from the Victorian squad saw me,” he said.

“I didn’t even know they were watching – it was a bit overwhelming when I found out. I then had to go to two trials.”

At the trials, Oliver was competing with 29 other players for 16 spots in the final team.

“We had base running and time trials, batting practice and a lot of running,” he said.

“I reckon I went well in the speed trials and my fielding was alright. My batting was good as well. I’m so happy to be selected.”

State selection has meant Oliver has had to learn new team plays and a new position.

“At my local team, I play catcher,” he said. “I’ve been training for second base for the state team.

“There’s a big difference – catching you call where you want the pitch, while at second base you have to be more ready, with an eye on the pitcher and the batter.”

Oliver is hoping state selection will be a stepping stone to his softball career.

“I would like to get a bit further,” he said. “It’s already a great achievement, [but] I would like to go further and get specialised training.”

This season Oliver has made the move to new club Keilor Indians, which is part of the Keilor Park Softball Association.

Oliver’s dad Paul, who is president of the Indians, said the club would be excellent for his son’s career.

“Some of us were approached by the president at Keilor Park about starting a new club,” Paul said. “A lot of players [in the association’s other clubs] were looking to play elsewhere and it was the perfect opportunity.”

The Indians have tee-ball and sides ranging from under-12s through to open women and men.

Clarkefield’s Cody Rodwell has also been selected in the under-17 state team.