CRACK Redlands softball player Tamieka Whitefield of Alexandra Hills has made it to the top of her sport, having been selected in the Aussie Junior Spirit Softball Team to play in the Junior Women’s Softball World Championship in Clearwater, Florida in July.
Whitefield was one of three Queenslanders to make the squad.
The others where Rhiannon Kemp of Deception Bay who plays for Redcliffe and Tia Waters of Coowonga near Rockhampton.
The team was chosen after a selection tournament scheduled for Brisbane was wiped out by torrential rain from ex-Cyclone Debbie.
Junior Spirit head coach Kerrie Porter said the weather was frustrating.
“Selectors had picked a 27-player squad and the aim was to give them practice games against the Aussie Spirit and see how they performed under the pressure of such tough competition,’’ she said.
“But with all the rain, it became a timing issue. It was unreasonable to expect everyone involved to get together again in another time frame, so we had to rely on previous information to get the 27 down to 17.
“It wasn’t an easy task, but everyone in the squad had played at the nationals, so at least it was a level playing field.
“And at the end of the day, selectors have chosen a competitive, versatile team that I’m sure will do well in Florida.”
The Under 19 World Championship will be held from July 24 to 30.
Players will have a weekend camp about six weeks before leaving, then hold a pre-departure camp to fine-tune skills.
Between camps, the players will continue their skills program and work on strength and conditioning. “Preparation is the key,” Porter said. How we prepare is how we perform.”
Junior teams are by definition short on experience and several Australian players will wear the green and gold for the first time.
Others, like NSW pitcher Gabrielle Plain, have already tasted high-level international competition.
“Gabbie has played at junior world championship level before and has also been with the Aussie Spirit at the Toyota Cup,” Porter said. “We’ll be relying on her to tap into her experience and for her to pass on information to her less-experienced teammates.”
The Australians leave on July 14 and will play practice games at Clearwater before the main event. “We have two confirmed games against the Japanese Under 19 team and we hope to organise some more,” Porter said.
Porter hopes to improve on the 2015 World Championship in Oklahoma City, where the Junior Spirit finished seventh as US won gold, Japan silver and Puerto Rico bronze.
“Our minimum goal is to make the playoff rounds,” Porter said. “After that, we’ll just see how far we can go.”