The WA Women's State Team is celebrating gold medal glory after besting undefeated Victoria 6-3 in the 2023 Australian Women's Championship at Melbourne Ballpark.
WA went 6-1 and only dropped one game to Victoria on Wednesday before bouncing back with the grand final win on Thursday. The game was tied at three in the top of the sixth when Elodie O'Sullivan singled on a 2-2 count, scoring one run to put WA in front.
Yuuki Ishikawa was named tournament MVP and Leah Cornish earned the Golden Bat Award to round off an amazing week on the national stage.
"For everyone involved in this program, there are no words that can describe what it feels to achieve what we just achieved. A mountain of work has gone into this achievement, it's been 11 years since our program brought this trophy home so it's a special feeling," Head Coach Kurt Russell said.
"As a group last year we honestly thought we were around the mark and were humbled pretty quickly as we settled for a bronze medal. I sat down with our leadership group and started to identify areas within our program we can improve. We went to work early last offseason with a winter program for the girls that made the national showcase and that was the start to our preparations."
This year, their approach in the box made a huge difference.
"It's clear the hitting program and philosophy myself and my staff rolled out have worked because we were above and beyond every other team offensively. Obviously without the buy in of every athlete in the program we do not get the results. The program is just the foundation, so all the credit needs to go to the girls for putting in the work and buying into the program."
Coach Russell says this incredible result is a testament to the bright future of women's baseball across the state.
"This win means everything to everyone involved in our program. These athletes have worked so hard and invested a lot of money and time in order to be part of a national championship winning squad. The memories created over the past week are lifelong memories that will not be forgotten any time soon. For women's baseball in WA, it shows we are heading in the right direction and it now gives a benchmark for all the athletes aspiring to become a part of the program. There is a genuine direction within this program and we have the backing of BWA to ensure its ongoing success."
BWA and the entire baseball community are incredibly proud of the women and what they accomplished.
"It was fantastic to see the success of the team with so many graduates of our junior development programs, especially the Pony Girls we introduced a few years ago. Seven of them are graduates of Pony Girls," BWA Participation Manager David Hayes said.
"What we need to take the next step are more clubs buying in to the development of girls pathways in their planning, from tee-ball to Pony Girls to the Women's League. Once we have 8-12 clubs with this in place year-on-year, we will consistently lead the way at both Women's and Youth Girls national championships".
Perth Heat share the sentiment.
"It’s a remarkable achievement and a wonderful reward for commitment,” Perth Heat Chief Executive Steven Nelkovski said. “Our women’s teams have overcome incredible obstacles with poor female facilities and exclusion from the National Showcase tournament in recent years, so to win the tournament is phenomenal."
Catch up on all the #AWC2023 action on Facebook and GameChanger. Check out the gold medal game recap HERE.