Baseball World Cup: Bailey-Jay Cooke slugs his way to Panama dream

Bailey-Jay Cooke.
Bailey-Jay Cooke.

SWAN Districts baseballer Bailey-Jay Cooke will realise some long-held potential when he represents Australia at the under-15 world cup in October.

As a child playing just his second season of tee-ball at Kalamunda Rangers, BJ’s powerful hitting was deemed too dangerous for other children and his mother Denise was told that young BJ would have to play ‘machine pitch’ instead.

Now 15 and still too young to play men’s baseball in Perth, BJ won his junior league’s batting title last season, hitting .650.

He sees the world stage and the World Cup in Panama as an incredible opportunity.

“I’m looking to get a life experience. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ll ever do,” BJ said.

“It is a good thing for my development, meeting new people.”

“I’m going to make new friends and I want to see how I compare to the best players around the world.”

BJ will be joined in Panama by Swan Districts teammates Maddux Stivey and Max Chipper and Melville Braves player Tye Kazmierowski.

Swan Districts president Andrew Murray spoke highly of the versatile young star, who is listed as a pitcher, infielder and outfielder for the Australian squad.

“BJ is a superstar. He’s an absolute competitor, he just competes all day long,” Murray said.

“He’s a good kid, he’s humble and a good honest hard worker. He takes feedback really well.

“He’s just the type of kid you want in your team.”

BJ recognised support from his family had been crucial in his baseball development so far.

His proud mum said BJ’s musically-inclined sister Sharnie was his biggest fan and is at every one of his local games.

Father Andy spends a lot of time working out with his son, but even more time working on BJ’s mental strength. Mr Cooke is an advocate for holistic mental health.

“Dad is really good at sitting down and talking about the mental side,” BJ said.

“He is a big believer in mental strength. How you act off the field is how you will perform on it.”

With only 12 nations competing at the World Cup, the field is extremely strong.

Australia is on the other side of the draw to heavyweights Panama, the US and Chinese Taipei, but will face the strong baseballing nations of Japan, Cuba and the Dominican Republic for one of three spots in the second round. South Africa and the Netherlands are also in Australia’s group.