Matthew pitches past the pain of knee injury
MATTHEW Shields is Central Queensland's sole representative in the Queensland under-16 boys softball team and he has thrown away the pain to reach this level.
Shields, from a property near Marmor, is on pitching duties at the national championships in Perth from January 15-21.
Joining Queensland's team at the under-19's national championships in Perth are Rockhampton trio Ryan Beal, Daniel Wordley and Timm Ackers.
The under-19 trio have also previously joined Queensland teams, but this is a first for Shields.
The 15-year-old could have easily walked away from the sport a few years ago with knee injuries proving an ongoing problem. Shields had knee surgery in February last year, to repair torn cartilage in his right knee, and he has also battled a growing disease in his left knee.
He was sidelined for 12 months after the surgery before returning to the field in February this year.
"I'm pretty excited,'' Shield said of his State selection. Not only do Shields' knees have to stand up to the pressure the pitcher's arm also gets a solid workout.
"I try to throw about 400 or 500 pitches a week,'' he said. Shields only started in the sport five years ago.
"My sister played and I rocked up to have training and it went from there,'' Shields said.
"I like the competitive side, and it's good fun.''
Shields is launching into a double challenge in Perth.
This age division will also be included on an Australian squad to start developing players towards the under-19 World Cup.
About 25 players will be selected from the nationals.
In the women's competition, Rockhampton's Kylie Cronk will play for the Queensland Sunlanders open women's team at the nationals in Altona, Victoria, from January 1-7.