Life on Tour with Softball Champion and Year 8 student, Emily Clark
Year 8 student and Queensland Softball Representative, Emily Clark, shares her journey of going on tour with the Queensland Flames Softball Team during the resent Summer school holidays. Read here story below:
For the Title of Under 14 National Softball Champion
During the holidays in early January, I had the privilege of being a state representative player for Queensland Softball. A squad of players had been selected back in May 2019 from the State Championships. The squad trained as regional groups until October when two teams were announced. I was selected in the Queensland Flames team.
The teams flew to Perth, Western Australia on January 3rd on an early morning flight. We were all at the airport by 6:15 AM so you can guess what time I had to be out of bed. Airports usually aren’t very interesting places but this time it was slightly different being in a team of girls. After we had all arrived and checked in our suitcases and gear bags we headed through security and browsed through the very expensive shops. We had about 30 minutes until boarding time.
Once our flight had taken off we were free to change seats and talk with other people. It was a long five hour plus flight. I sat next to quite a few different people during this time and also managed to watch a couple of movies on my phone. We were asked by our team manager, Bec, to bring our own food for the flight as who really likes eating powdered egg omelettes with a side of mouldy mushrooms and tomatoes covered in pepper, as she described it. I was certainly thankful for my own food as Bec wasn’t wrong about the food served up!
After arriving in Perth and navigating our way through baggage claim and hire car collection we set forth to our accommodation for the week. Our rooms were allocated and we found out for the first time who our roommates were going to be. I roomed with one of the pitcher’s from my club plus four other girls from around the state. What a great room we had. We all just got along really well and everyone helped each other get ready on time.
The week’s games were split into two different formats. For the first two days, we played a modified version of softball called Fully Loaded. Think T20 cricket. The modified version was created to allow more runners on base and more runs to score, whilst also creating more opportunities for different plays for the fielders. Games were played in two pools. Both of our first two games went to tie-breakers. This meant that at the end of the game our scores were tied and we had to play an extra inning. We ended up losing both of these tiebreakers which was a bit sad but it was great to be actually playing softball. The next day we played two more games of fully loaded softball and won both of these. We finished second in our pool and we were starting to play some good softball.
Our downtime during the week was spent doing some really fun things. We had plenty of recovery time in the hotel pool. On different days or nights, we visited various places around Perth, ate ice-cream, I even ate Subway for the first time. We went to Sizzler and had a crazy sock night. On the final day, we had breakfast with our parents at the Fremantle market.
On day three the softball games for the title of National Under 14 Champion commenced. We played two games each day for the next two days against the other teams in our pool. The goal was to finish in the top three of the pool which we did. This allowed us into the top section of the play-offs. The play-offs were very exciting. We lost our first game but won our next one.
Now we had to play our good mates from the other Queensland team. The winner would progress to the preliminary final whilst the loser would finish fourth. It was a very exciting game. We scored runs early in the game and held them out. We built our lead in the next couple of innings too. We fielded really well and kept things tight. Heading into the last batting inning for them we were leading 6 runs to 1. They came back at us hard. They were able to get runners on base and we were under real pressure. They scored four runs to get the score to 6-5. We had two out by this time but they had more runners on base and one of their really good batters was up to bat. Our pitcher struck her out! We won by one run and progressed to the final day. We were all super excited.
Our opponent in the preliminary final was NSW Metro Green. They were very strong and had an excellent pitcher. They won the game and advanced to the Grand Final. We finished third in the National Championship. We were very proud of our achievement as we had combined well as a team throughout the week and played some excellent softball.
For me personally, I played in every game except one. I played catcher and third base for our team and was more often than not the leadoff batter. I was very happy with how I played although I still have heaps to learn.
The Open Women’s Championship was held at the same venue for the week and we watched some of those games. WOW! Is all I can say. That was some seriously good softball being played. The players were battling to obtain a position in Australia’s team for the Olympic games this year. How exciting would that be?
The Queensland Open Women’s team awarded me a signed match ball for being the best team member and team manager Bec gave me the team banner that we all made for my leadership throughout the week.
All in all, it was a brilliant week. I made heaps of new friends and strengthened current ones. I learnt an amazing amount about the game and how to handle pressure situations. All the time spent training with the team and by myself now felt so worthwhile. Even the time spent travelling and recovering from scrapes, bruises and other muscle aches and pains. I can’t wait to do it again!