By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Kennard Dawson helped Great Britain to its best finish in the European U23 Baseball Championships where they placed fourth, following an 8-1 loss to hosts Italy, in Saturday’s bronze medal game.
While three Italian hurlers combined to no-hit Great Britain in the game, Dawson had helped them into the semifinals during a 6-5 thriller over the Czech Republic. He was 2-for-4 including a double and a run scored. He was also 2-for-4 with 2 RBI’s, in a 12-4 semifinal loss to the Netherlands. Dawson finished the championships with 5 hits, 4 runs batted in and a .278 batting average.
“It was exciting to play for a bronze medal because Great Britain had never played for a bronze medal before in the U23s age group,” Dawson told Island Sun Sports. “We were the first to make it out of bracket play and I was proud to be a part of that. I guess everyone was excited for that and kind of let our guards down, felt like we accomplished something special. Maybe that was our downfall—letting our guards down—we were happy for what we had done and went into the (bronze medal) game kind of flat.”
During the championships, Dawson didn’t play in his normal catching but in Right Field and Centerfield. He was also the leadoff batter in two games, moving up from the fifth spot. “I thought I had a better approach than the first time but pretty much the same result,” he said. “It’s a learning experience so hopefully, I can keep improving on that.”
He shared his thoughts on playing Centerfield
“I never played Centerfield in any game at any level—not in scrimmages or softball at home—never ever played Centerfield. Before the game, Coach said he wanted me to lead off the game which I’d never done in my life either and he also wanted me to play Centerfield,” Dawson said. “I was kind of like you’re sure—I looked around the room to be sure but in reality, I was the only person in front of him—and he asked how I felt about it. I told him honestly, I’ve never done it before, I’m not exactly sure if I want to, but if you want me to, I will. That’s when he told me he wanted to rest the starting Centerfielder. I told him if that’s the case, I’ll do it and I’ll try my best. I was pretty nervous at first but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
That game he noted was played at night—something he hadn’t done in a while—so he had to readjust to seeing the ball off the bat over the lights and coming through the lights.
“Playing Centerfield wasn’t a bad experience,” he said.
When asked about the confidence coaches had in him by giving him opportunities he’s never had, Dawson said that it was one of the first times he stopped, and took the time to be proud of himself. “All the coaches here had never seen me play baseball. They just looked at my stats on paper,” he pointed out. “Before we started group play, they saw glimpses of my play, took the chance and I went out and proved what they saw wasn’t a fluke. It was a huge boost of confidence knowing they are willing to put me in spots—even though it might be uncomfortable for me—so that was a huge boost of confidence.”