Talented Wagga softballer Montana Kearnes will be looking to make the most of an exciting opportunity in Adelaide next week.
Kearnes will return to representative softball when she steps out for the NSW open women's team at the national championships in Adelaide.
The 24-year-old had taken a break from representative duties for a couple of years but will step back in as one of NSW's senior players at the upcoming titles.
With a host of NSW's most experienced and decorated players currently overseas, Kearnes is looking forward to reminding those at the elite level what she is capable of.
"This is my second time playing in the opens team. After the 2019 nationals, I had a year off from the rep stuff and then with COVID, it didn't happen in 2021," Kearnes explained.
"It was a bit too much going up and back (to Sydney) all of the time. I was travelling twice a week to and from Sydney and had been doing it since under 17s. It was a big commitment so I needed a break.
"This time because of COVID they have been pretty lenient. They let me train here in Wagga for the first month and a half, and then up in Sydney so it's been good."
Kearnes gained selection after impressing for Sutherland at the opens state championships, where they finished in third spot.
The South Wagga Warriors star was thrilled to be back in the NSW team.
"This NSW opens team is pretty much harder to crack than the Aussie team because all of the rep players for Australia make this team, that's where the majority of the Australian players are, based here in NSW," she said.
"It's always exciting to make a NSW team."
While Kearnes is a talented pitcher in the Wagga competition, she will take on a new role at third base for NSW next week.
She is excited by the opportunity as she will take the spot of veteran Australian softballer Stacey Porter.
"I'll be taking on third base, which is Stacey Porter's main position in this team," she said.
"But because of timing, they're all over in Japan and what not playing so they won't be apart of this team, which is interesting. I've had the honour to step into her role and pick up third base so big shoes to fill but we'll get there."
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With so many experienced NSW and Australian players out of the team, Kearnes recognises the opportunity in front of her.
"That's right. Because I've captained younger state teams previously I feel like I have that leadership with me," she said.
"I don't feel like I have to step up but I know I'm a leader so I know that will come out in my game, with these younger ones especially."
NSW is traditionally one of the stronger teams at the tournament but with so many players missing, Kearnes is unsure what to expect.
"To win it would be nice," she said.
"We have a pretty young team, I think our youngest player might be 16 or 17. Our main pitchers and all of that, they're all over in college over in America and playing in the Japan league so we've had some younger girls selected which will be a good experience for them.
"Hopefully we can get up there and win it but my main goal is more or less to have fun and chuck everything we have at it."
The championships run from Saturday week, April 30 to Tuesday May, 3.
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