Softballers on show in Sydney
8 January 2007
Australia’s best softball players will be representing their respective States at the Australian Open Women’s and Men’s Fastpitch Championship which is underway in Sydney and runs till January 13.
The joint Championship is the biggest event Blacktown Olympic Park has seen since the 2000 Olympic Games with 13 teams competing for their historic shields, the Gilley’s Shield (Open Women’s) and John Reid Shield (Open Men’s) named after the sports greats.
“The Championship will see over 250 players and officials flood Blacktown to demonstrate the highest level of the sport on a National level. The year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Championship which promises to be exciting and with hard hitting softball,” said Susan Crow, Chief Executive, Softball Australia.
For the Open Women’s, Queensland will be striving for a back-to-back title to send Marissa Carpadios, who announced her retirement from the sport last month, out on a high. With Sandra Allen and Jodie Bowering at bat and Jocelyn McCallum on the mound the team will be looking to put in a strong consistent performance against tough competition.
New South Wales, who went down to Queensland in last year’s final 2-1, will be looking to reclaim the Shield with Olympians Natalie Ward, Fiona Crawford, Simmone Morrow and Kerry Wyborn in good form.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory have joined forces and entered a combined young team and five players for Western Australia will make their debut in Open representation. Other teams participating include ACT, South Australia and Victoria.
The Australian women have qualified for the 2008 Olympics by winning bronze at the 2006 World Championships in Beijing. These Championships are the perfect opportunity for all players to impress head coach Fabien Barlow and press for selection in up-coming tours and ultimately the Olympics.
“In particular we are always looking for young pitchers to step up and this is great opportunity. Recently two outstanding pitchers in Felicity Witt and Zara Mee have come out of retirement.
It will be interesting to see how they go and great that we have another two options leading into Beijing,” Barlow said.
“The hard word has gone out to all pitchers about their condition. We are looking for girls who don’t run out of puff and have great stats on the last day of all tournaments.”
The Aussie Spirit will tour Europe in May, play the Canada Cup in June/July and travel back to Beijing in October to play a top tournament being organised by the Chinese.