Year 7 students Toby Neilen and Lachlan Cronin from Nanango State High School who recently represented Wide Bay for the Softball Softball State Championships in Mackay.
Year 7 students Toby Neilen and Lachlan Cronin from Nanango State High School who recently represented Wide Bay for the Softball Softball State Championships in Mackay. Nanango State High School

Two Nanango boys strike out at state championships

NOT ONE but two Nanango State High School boys are the latest South Burnett sporting stars to shine on the big field.

Year 7 students Toby Neilen and Lachlan Cronin travelled to Mackay to play in the Softball State Championships as part of the Under 12 Wide Bay side.

From September 12 until September 15 the boys competed against other teams from across Queensland with the hopes of making the state squad.

Toby's mother Jenniel Neilen said there was a healthy amount a rivalry between the players through out the week long carnival.

"As Toby goes to school in Nanango, he is technically in the South Burnett region even though we live in Blackbutt.

"He plays at a club level for the Toowoomba Devils, so he was coming up against a lot of his club teammates.

Toby Neilen in action for the Under 12 Wide Bay team as part of the Softball State Championships in Mackay.
Toby Neilen in action for the Under 12 Wide Bay team as part of the Softball State Championships in Mackay. Jenniel Neilen

"There was a bit of sledging from the crowds and players but it's only what can be expected.

"Overall it was a family friendly atmosphere and everybody was there to have a good time and support the players.

Jenniel said Toby "dreamed and lived” softball at the moment but was surprised to learn he was upholding a family tradition.

"Toby has only been playing for three years,” Jenniel said.

"When he first started we learned that my grandfather and my husband's grandmother used to play softball and competed at school.

"We practice at home but as Toby has quite a strong throw we struggle to catch a lot of them.

Jenniel said it was Lachlan's first and Toby's second time being selected in the Wide Bay squad.

Year 7 students Toby Neilen and Lachlan Cronin from Nanango State High School showing off their jersey numbers at the Softball State Championships in Mackay.
Year 7 students Toby Neilen and Lachlan Cronin from Nanango State High School showing off their jersey numbers at the Softball State Championships in Mackay. Nanango State High School

As her son will turn 13 early next year, he won't be eligible to try out for the U12 side and will move up to the U17 division in the school sporting system.

"It will be quite a big age gap but I guess it's the way they do it.

"The good thing about Toby is that he is a catcher, so that could give him some extra points for selection.

"The boys missed out on being picked for the state team this year, but he is hopeful for the next year.

Toby is about to start his second season at the Devils, which will require a hefty amount of travel time to and from Toowoomba each week.

Despite this factor, Jenniel said they managed to do the best they could for their children.

"If any of our kids want to do something, Michael and I will do everything we can to make it work.

"He is very committed and loves the game, so who knows where he could end up playing,” she said.

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