Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Softball with Stacey

VIXENSPORTS AND SOFTBALL

Join VixenSports as we follow the journey of Softballer Stacey McManus!!

Stacey will keep us up to date with her Softball season and more!!!

ABOUT STACEY MCMANUS

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Softball NSW held the first Softball Australia “Down Under Series” on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of February. The teams competing were a NSW Softball Invitational Team, the U’19 Australian Pride Team, who are to compete at the Junior World Championships later this year, the Australian Open Aussie Spirit team (in which I played in) and the Toyota Red Terriers from the Japanese Professional League.

The Aussie Spirit started off great with 2 wins on the first day against the NSW team and the Aussie Pride team. On the Saturday we attended a luncheon to celebrate the 1965 Australia Opens team who won the first World Championships. This was 50 years to the day these women won Gold for Australia. It was a great luncheon with lots of great stories told by most of the team members from their time playing the sport of softball and of course that great victory over USA to win GOLD.

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We then headed back to the fields for another 2 games. The first game we played was against the NSW team, and again we had our bats going and posted another win for the Aussie Spirit. That night was the big game, Australia vs one of the best Professional League teams in the world… To open up the game, we got to present a playing cap to one of the members of the 1965 Gold Medal winning team. Me being a 2nd Baseman got to present it to Norma Woods, the 2nd Baseman from the 1965 team.

After a long “lights delay” the big game finally got started. It was a tight game at first with both teams getting a few base runners on. It was nil all until the 4th innings where the Red Terriers were able to score 3 runs. In the bottom of the 6th came the highlight of the night. We got to face one of the best pitchers in the World and former Olympian, Monica Abbott, who threw around 118km/h and stunned the crowd with her pace. I was lucky enough to be able to face her and steal a hit off her with a single to right-field. The game ended 5-0 with the Red Terriers able to score 2 more throughout the last 3 innings.

On the final day of play we played the Aussie Pride team and had another good win with lots of good team hitting. We then faced the Red Terriers again. We were able to get lots of runners on, but unfortunately couldn’t convert into runs. The Red Terriers however were on fire and the game was over in 4 innings due to the 10 run mercy rule.

As it wasn’t the greatest game to finish on, in all we were all pleased with the improvements we made as a team over the weekend considering there were 5 players who had never played for Australia at the Open level before.

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From the 4th till the 10th of January this year, we had our annual National Championships held in Perth, WA. Heading into the tournament we were the favourites to win, due to our success last year. The tournament started well for us with 4 wins over VIC, SA, NT and ACT in the first 2 days. Our first tough game came on the 3rd day when we faced the runners up from last year, QLD. It was a really great game going down to the wire with QLD winning 2 runs to 0.

Although suffering our first lost, we came out with the bats in our game vs WA later that day winning 7-nil. We won the rest of our round games quite convincingly to come out in 1st place after the rounds. This then meant we had to play our rivals QLD to go straight through to the Grand Final. Things didn’t go right for us from the first pitch and unfortunately ended up going down to QLD 3-0.

On the morning of the final day we had to beat WA to make the Grand Final against QLD. Thankfully we had our bats going that morning and beat them 5-2 meaning we had made the Grand Final against QLD later that day. We were lucky enough to have the final being filmed Fox Sports, meaning the nerves and excitement were running high. Once again, the game didn’t start as planned with QLD scoring 2 runs in the first innings putting us on the back foot straight away.

A few innings later we levelled it up at 2 all with some great team hitting. After the standard 7 innings, the score was still tied at 2 all meaning we had to go to a tie breaker. In the tie breaker we were able to score 3 runs off a few QLD errors. In the bottom of the 8th innings, it was QLDs turn to bat and they came straight out and scored 1 run with a hit from the first batter. Without them scoring another run we got the 3 outs and won the National Championship for a second year in a row 5 runs to 3.

The week of the National Championships is the biggest week of the year in Australian Softball where the best of the best are playing against each other for their home states. It would be safe to say that it’s the best feeling being crowned as National Champions!!

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OGAKI, JAPAN

Our first stop on our road to the World Champs was Ogaki, Japan. The first 3 days after arriving there we played 7 games against some of their Pro League teams, of which we won 3. These games were a good lead up to the Ogaki International Tournament as it gave us a chance to play alongside our team mates of whom we may have never played before, and also provided a good chance for our coach to try different things in the games. For the next 3 games we headed into the Ogaki International Tournament against Japan and China – we played each team twice. We lost both games against Japan (#1 ranked team in the World), however we were able to compete with them and took them to extra innings in both games. We lost 1 game against China and beat them the last time we played them which was one of our best games as a team. We gained a lot from the games we played in Japan as they have a really strong Professional League and also left us feeling quite positive leading into our next tournament.

AZZANO DECIMO, ITALY

After a good competitive tournament in Japan, we flew into Italy for the Italian Softball Week tournament between USA, Italy and ourselves. During this week we played both teams 3 times. We had 3 out of 3 success against Italy, and were able to win 1 of 3 games against the USA (beating USA for the second time in the past 12 years). This week gave us even greater confidence heading into the World Championships in Haarlem the following week – given both teams were also in our pool. There was a lot of great defence being played by our team and we were finally coming together with the bats and scoring runs against other International teams.

HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS – WORL CHAMPIONSHIPS

After arriving in Haarlem, our team was given a well deserved rest day, on which we were able to visit Amsterdam for a little site seeing before we got back to business. On our second day in Haarlem we were back out onto the softball fields and training for our final preparations before the World Champs started. Our first game was against Chinese Taipei, it was a tight first game but we got across the line winning the game 2-1. Our next game was against Italy, in which our team batting really came through beating them 10-0 in 4 innings. We continued our great team hitting into the next game winning 9-0 in 5 innings. Our next game was against home team Netherlands. It started off a tight game before we were able to string hits together and score 3 runs in the 4th and added a further 1 run in the 6th to win 4-0. Our next game was against USA, this was our toughest yet. Although there were many rain delays early in the week, this was the weirdest and longest rain delay I have ever been apart of. We started the game at 11pm, and during the 4th innings whilst USA were up 4 nil, the heavens opened and flooded the field – during this delay, the grounds had power failure and the lights went out. This forced us to go to our hotel, have a sleep and come back at 10am the next morning to finish off the game. We were able to get 2 runs on the board but that wasn’t enough to beat USA and therefore suffering our first loss of the Championships. Later that day we came out and beat Botswana 17-0 in 4 innings so we could go back to the hotel and rest from the night before. Our last round game was against Dominican Republic in which we continued on our success from the day before and beat them 7-0 in 5 innings. From here on it was all finals – first up we had Japan. Our first finals day was the wettest day we had, causing the organisers to cancel the day in hope we could start play early on the second day. After another long morning waiting for the rain to stop, we were able to start playing. Although it was a tough game and we fought hard, we went down 4-0 to Japan. This then brought us to a rematch against home team Netherlands. We started the game scoring one run in the 1st, and then went on to win 8-0 in 5 innings. It was now 11pm at night where we had to face rivals Canada for the first time this year. The game was scoreless until the 5th innings where we scored 2 runs before putting on another on in the top of the 6th. The bottom of the 6th showed some classy batting by Canada who were able to level up the score. With that threat from Canada we were able to score 4 runs in the top of the 7th and hold them out to win the game 7-3 which guaranteed us a medal!!! By the time this game finished, it was just on 1am – much to the excitement of winning a medal at the World Champs, we had to leave straight away and get some sleep before an early start on the final day so we could push for GOLD! Unfortunately, USA got off to too good a start scoring 2 runs in the first innings. After a few more runs were put on against us, we were able to score 1 run against them. USA ended up being too strong for us on the day, beating us 8-1. Although it wasn’t the best game we still ended up with a BRONZE medal. I am definitely proud to be apart of this years’ Australian Bronze Medal winning team and look forward to pushing for GOLD in the future!

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From the 3rd to the 11th of January I competed for NSW in the 2014 Gilleys Shield at Blacktown International Sports Park. This week was our National Championships for softball in Australia and consisted of 16 round games. Our week went extremely well and in 16 games we only lost 1. At the end of the rounds we were in 1st place by a few games.

On Friday the 10th January, we played our first Semi Final against QLD who placed 2nd. It was a tight game in which we ended up winning 2-0. The only runs coming from a homerun with a runner already on base. Winning this game took us straight through to the Grand Final on Saturday.

In the Grand Final we ended up playing QLD again who beat WA to get through to the final earlier that morning.

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The Grand Final didn’t start exactly as planned with QLD hitting a 2-run home run in the 1st innings to take a 2-0 lead. It wasn’t until the 5th innings where we were able to put a few hits together and score 1 run to close the gap. Heading into the top of the 7th (our last chance to score before the game was over), we were still down 2-1 and our leadoff hitter gets on base. This brings up to bat our number 1 hitter and our Captain Stacey Porter. On the 2nd pitch she smashed a ball over the centrefield fence for a 2 run homerun to give us the lead 3-2.

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We weren’t able to score anymore runs and so heading into the bottom of the 7th with the top of QLDs lineup up to bat. We were able to get 3 out without them scoring a run and therefore crowning us NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! It was the best feeling knowing that all the months hard work had paid off and cant wait to do it all again next year!!

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