The U18 Women’s National Championships get started this Sunday 19-25 January at Blacktown International Sportspark – rounding out the 2020 Summer of national competitions.
Head Coach Alisha Bell’s squad is eager to convert their hard work from the training track onto the big stage at nationals.
“Early on in our preparation we just went back to the basics and the foundation skills,” Bell said.
“As we progressed, we looked for lots of initiative and competiveness from our training sessions – to make sure we’re competitive in Blacktown,” she added.
This year’s tournament altered from 2019’s under 17 event, to an under 18 event. Bell said that a core group of players have returned to the side this year, which is convenient for the growth and development of the group.
“With the change of age groups, all of last year’s under 17 players were eligible for this year’s competition. We haven’t retained all of our players, but a core group will return – which will bring some experience this year.”
“It’s crucial (retention of players) in bringing that depth into the tournament and will definitely help our ability to be competitive for longer.”
“It’s a long week, its usually a hot week weather wise, so our main aim is to be at our best at the business end and go that one step further this year,” she added.
A main focus for the team this campaign has been to develop multiple elements to their game and keep the opposition guessing.
Bell believes flexibility could be the key to ensuring Victoria progresses deep into the competition, after coaching last year’s under 17’s team to a third placed finish.
“We’ve looked at our versatility this year, and to not just being one dimensional.”
“Players have worked on bringing multiple assets to the team, and the ability to have a ‘plan b’ if something’s not working – not only positionally but offensively between our long and short game.”
Bell said she has full confidence in the team leaders and is also excited at the prospect of the younger crop of players learning from the captains.
“Our captain is Alannah Panza, and our two vice captains are Keziah Pauli and Gemma Cornell – we’re looking for their experience on the diamond.”
“All three girls are going into their third year of the state program, so they know what to expect from nationals, and their experience will really help the younger group coming through,” Bell added.
“One of our first year players, Chelsea Kimber is looking strong both offensively and defensively, she’s been working hard to push herself up to the starting nine.”
“The girls are really confident, they’ve built relationships and that camaraderie together to face whatever challenges come our way at nationals.”
Stay tuned to the Softball Victoria website and associated social media channels for updates from Blacktown.