Lake Albert Public School girls’ softball team is gunning for a state championship early next month, after making it to the final four teams in the NSW PSSA knockout competition.
The team has been led by pitcher Alex Maiden, who represented NSW last week, and catcher Kealey Bettens who starred for Riverina at a state carnival earlier this year.
But their success is a tribute to teamwork.
Coach Terry Williams said for the past decade, Lake Albert Primary has been knocked out of the PSSA competition in the first couple of rounds.
This year, with a team that began with only two softballers and a selection of tennis players, netballers and basketballers, improvement and camraderie has taken them a long way, literally.
They’ll travel to Blacktown on December 6 for the semi-finals and final.
They're so excited. We're all so excited!Coach Terry Williams
Lake Albert beat Sturt Public and Wagga Public before downing Howlong and Narrandera.
After emerging as the top Riverina team, Lake Albert made the long trip to the south coast where they thumped Moruya. They were then too good for Sydney school Harrington Park in the quarter-finals, winning 18-2.
They will take on either northern Sydney school Harbord, or Narrunga Public from the NSW north coast, in the semis.
“The camaraderie is their underlying strength, and their overall coachability,” Williams said.
“We've seen the odd home-run hit, speccy catches, great base slides, and really tidy fielding along the way.
“Every player contributes something, even simply with their voices from the bench or a warm compliment to their team mate.
“Every 'win or victory' has been earnt graciously. So, this trip to play as one of the state’s top four softball teams is the pinnacle of the year's work.
“They really just love staying in motels together, but are quick to turn the 'softball talk' on when they take the grass.”
The two semi-final winners will meet in the final on the same day, Thursday December 6.
“They’re so excited. We’re all so excited!” Williams said.
Lake Albert’s boy’s team bowed out in the quarter-finals. Featuring many handy cricketers the team, led by pitcher Austin Gooden, won four games before a narrow loss to Sydney’s Panania.
Coach Williams said the boys’ effort to be the top team in the Riverina and beat the best of the south coast (Pambula) was testament to their willingness to learn a new game which is often seen as a girls’ sport.
“A team of once again, extremely coachable kids who quickly understood the objective of numerous softball plays and were quickly hooked on how awesome it feels to hit a softball at pace,” Williams said.
Eight of the 12 boys won Riverina selection and were part of the region’s rare second place finish at the NSW championships in September.
While the girls prepare for a trip to Sydney for the softball semis, most of the boys will be playing in next Monday’s PSSA cricket quarter-final in the hope of securing the same result in a different sport.