The world of softball has been going gangbusters over the past few weeks with Australian Softball Teams playing against some of the best of international competition both in Australia and overseas.
Redland Softball Association hosted the U23’s Men’s and Women’s Nationals alongside the 2017 International Friendship Series. The International Friendship Series is an Australian selection event, with 2017 the 1st year for the women’s team of a 2 year preparation for the next worlds program and in it’s second year for the men’s world competition in 2018. Unfortunately due to rain delays games had to be cancelled, and competition results were reverted to the tournament standings.
Abigail Tosic represented ACT in the Aussie Gold side with 6 runs and 4 hits throughout the competition, with the Aussie Gold taking out a 1st place finish. “It has been an honour to play for Australia, playing for Aussie gold was the best and most memorable time I have had in my softball career so far. I have learnt so much about my self, and about playing with other people and along the way. I meet some amazing players and coaches and can’t wait for the next time I get to wear the green and gold.”
ACT U17 Girl’s Head Coach Vicki Bingley was selected as the Head Coach of the Aussie Green side taking 3rd place in the tournament. “The friendship series was again a great environment for all participants to learn and play great softball. The athletes and officials in the green team where a great group to be involved with, everyone learning from the experience. It is great to see the level of ability and talent paving a great pathway to the future of Australian softball”.
ACT State Representatives Sarah Nolan and Michaela Touhy were drafted to play for the Victorian U23 Women’s team as ACT did not enter a team for this years competition. Both ladies did an outstanding job contributing to the Victorians for their 3rd place standing at the end of the tournament.
Men from both the U17 & U19 age groups represented ACT in the International Friendship Series, with five players taking the diamond for both the Aussie Gold & Aussie Green sides; Kyle Doherty, Matthew Harrow, Andrew Meyer-Coyte, Bolton Nussbaum and Klass Pichelmann. Aussie Gold took 1st place in the tournament with Aussie Green only 1 point behind taking 2nd place. Kyle Doherty hit a homerun in his first game of the tournament against the Western Civil bringing home NSW representative Ryan King, “I really enjoyed the opportunity to experience competition of that level. It was amazing to finally get over the fence!”.
Overseas the Open Men’s and Women’s Australian teams have been playing some nail biting games against the world best. The Aussie Spirit faced World #1 Japan, World #2 USA and World #3 Canada in their pool, facing Canada for a second time in their bronze medal matchup losing 3-0.
ACT Diamond Clare Warwick is no stranger to the world softball stage, representing Australia in her first Open Women’s selection in 2005, and playing professionally in the Italian League. A local school teacher, Clare was named Vice Captain of the 2017 Aussie Spirit Squad for both the Women’s World Cup of Softball earlier this month in Whitehorse Canada, and Canada Cup in Surrey, British Columbia.
“It has been a great opportunity to get quality international competition. The playing field is levelling out which means we have to be on our game every single time we step on to the field”. The Aussie Spirit will face Canada Senior and Japan this Saturday 6:00am & 1:30pm EST.
The Australian Open Men’s Team, the Aussie Steelers. have had a stellar performance so far in their lead up to the Men’s Softball World Championships in Canada, with prep games against local teams in an undefeated record. Going into the competitive Pool A, the Aussies have faced powerhouses USA, World #4 Canada (currently undefeated in the tournament), and World #3 Argentina coming up with a 5-1 record for the tournament so far.
ACT 89er Nick Norton, a veteran of the Open Men’s Australian Squad, made his debut at the 2009 Men’s World Championship winning gold with his teammates Adam Folkard and Andrew Kirkpatrick, is hoping to repeat the result this year. “After a slow start hitting the ball, all players leading into the finals are becoming hot with the bat, smashing the ball getting some great results.”
After some time off after an ankle injury in late 2016, Adam Folkard has come back to the team on his first appearance since coming back to the diamond and into the pitcher’s circle. “The team is really clicking well which is great heading into the finals, and we are out to make up for the early losses for the tournament”. Adam took time out of his game schedule to tutor some emerging players on teams that have less international experience: India, Turkey and Hong Kong. – WBSC
The addition of Open Men’s rookies Josh White and Josh McGovern; both Canberra natives, has brought some new blood to the squad and some great game play on the field.
In his first appearance at international competition for the Aussie Steelers, Josh White hit a homerun against India bringing home Victorian representative Lewis Weldon, contributing to the aussies dominant win against India 16-0. “It’s been such an honour to represent my country at the highest level of competition that my sport has to offer. This experience has been unbelievably fun but has also taught me a lot. I’m looking forward to the championship rounds aiming for that gold medal”.
No stranger to the international stage, Josh McGovern represented Australia in junior competition in both the 2014 & 2016 Junior Men’s World Championships, and in 2016 was named captain of the team. “The biggest thing we’ve learnt is to take your opportunities, when we are on top of a team we have to keep going. Dropping off for a single innings can hurt you badly as proven in the Canadian game. Everyone is doing a job from batters 1-9 and players coming off the bench are doing the job needed.” McGovern has scored 4 runs and 5 hits in the tournament so far, with a noteworthy homerun in the Australian win against Hong Kong, 10-0.
Ex-player and current Head Coach of the Aussie Steelers, and ACT State Teams Laing Harrow has been training the boy’s hard leading up to the competition. “We are getting contributions from every player. The team has done an excellent job to finish second and we’re looking forward to our first playoff game against the kiwis”.
Australian Team Captain and ACT 89er’s Head Coach/Player Andrew Kirkpatrick has pitched 2 games with 20 strikeouts, as well as scoring 5 hits off the bat, “We are into the finals and sitting in a good spot and the team is playing well so we are excited for the next few days of the tournament”. The Steelers will be facing World #1 New Zealand for a spot for medal contention this Saturday 12:00pm EST, in what will be a hard fought match for the win as the number #2 seed leading into the finals.
It is great to see a large representation of ACT in international competition, inspiring future olympians and world champions in our community.
ACT will be hosting the Open Men’s and Under 15 Boy’s National Championships for the next three years at Hawker International Softball Centre, where our 89er’s won their 15th National Open Men’s title earlier this year against QLD.
For more information on ACT players, results, and game links go to the Softball ACT website.
Sophie Moore | Softball ACT