The WA Women's Team has plenty of reasons to celebrate after a bronze medal finish at the 2022 Australian Women's Baseball Championship in Adelaide.
WA went 5-2 overall with back-to-back walk-off victories and 71 total runs scored. The side just missed out on a return to the gold medal game with Wednesday's loss to NSW, the eventual national champions.
Head coach Kurt Russell says WA has a lot to be proud of in this tournament.
"The bronze is a bittersweet one for us, it's certainly rightfully deserved but we felt as though we were in a position to really shake things up this tournament," Russell said. "We really feel as though we had a successful tournament. Bringing home a medal when you take into account that we have a squad with an average age of 21 and only had a 6-week preparation with just two full squad sessions due to COVID restrictions solidified that."
Just getting back to the national stage was a fantastic feeling for the WA Women's Team after three years and a global pandemic.
"I feel as though this tournament was able to create a ton of exposure for women's baseball in Australia. Our 4 hour extra innings walk-off win against SA had a bit of everything and the responses on social media shows that we are starting to reach a bigger audience."
"From our perspective, the biggest takeaway was this squad's ability to deal with adversity. We had a few line in the sand moments this tournament and the playing group's ability to dig deep and respond shows that we are in the process of building something special. The big highlights for us are obviously the back to back walk-off wins, walking away with a medal, and watching the younger girls coming out of their shells and proving they belong at this level."
The team made the most of their individual strengths and came together to form a tight-knit group that was ready for anything.
"One of the main keys to our success this tournament was a clear understanding of player roles and having everyone pulling together to achieve the common goal," Russell explained. "We changed the structure this year to allow the athletes a relaxed environment with more freedoms off the field and that positively transitioned onto the field and was evident by just how close the playing group is and just how much they enjoyed themselves this tournament."
After an action-packed week in Adelaide, the future of women's baseball in WA is bright.
"We have just taken bronze with one of the youngest squads at the tournament and we have a core group of players that have the potential to play together for the next 5-10 years," Russell added. "You couple that with the exciting young junior players that are coming through the program at the moment, and it's clear there is the DNA to build a championship winning culture for years to come. We discussed this as a playing group and there is a hunger/determination amongst this group to make that a reality."
Also, several WA players have been selected for the upcoming Australian Women's Baseball Showcase in Geelong from 5-8 May.
"Kaila Borgomastro and Caitlin Eynon have already been announced on the lead into nationals and we are awaiting the exciting news to come around a number of other WA players and their involvement in the upcoming showcase," Russell said. "It's an exciting time for women's baseball in WA with a number of athletes getting the rightly deserved recognition and opportunities that are coming their way. Hopefully this paves the way for the young girls currently playing in our junior club programs."