Let’s take a look at Ashlee’s insight into the Japan Tour 2018….
In your words, in general, what was your experience like in Japan?
Japan was the most amazing and breath-taking experience I had ever experienced, not only being the first time going overseas but also the nerves of putting on the Australian uniform. Having coaches Kerrie Porter and Neridah Wearne was a great experience, their advice and corrections that haven’t come up in my day-to-day trainings will really help. Overall, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that helped me not only with my pitching but on how I can mentally prepare myself for a game.
How did you feel when you pulled on the Australian colours to play your first game for your country?
It was surreal, I was excited and nervous to play my first game after looking forward to seeing what it was like to play in and against another country. I was pretty proud to have been given the opportunity and this first-time was not a disappointment.
What did you gain/learn from the tour and what life experiences did you learn, if any?
I learnt that it was important to make sure that I take the time to breathe properly on and off the field and not to overthink things and make them more complicated than they really need to be.
I also learnt that having a different combination of pitches is important to keep batters on their toes and received some great tips to help improve my batting.
In your opinion, what was your highlight of the Tour?
I had so many highlights during this trip, a few are:
- Pitching a winning game where a run didn’t score while I was pitching. I thought I played well in that game, and the coach commented on how well I delivered my drop ball.
- Meeting and getting to know my coaches, manager and team mates from across Australia
- And most importantly being able to eat all the amazing food, finally learning how to use chopsticks (that or go hungry) and being able to experience all the cultural aspects of Japan.
Who was the best player you played against and why?
Overall, all the Japanese teams were very disciplined and highly skilled. Having said that, the very first team we played was probably the hardest as we didn’t know what to expect of the teams, they were really good and they play such a high level of softball.
What age did you start playing softball?
What Club did you start playing for? Who do you play for now?
I have played for Carine Cats from Tee-Ball and then onto Softball.
What is your favourite fielding position?
Who is your inspiration to keep striving to be the best?
My mum, she has always supported me, and told me to keep working and trying even when I didn’t think I was doing very well or had the ability to be a pitcher. She’s also my mode of transport to training and games which is also a huge help.
Who do you look up to in the Softball community?
I really look up to Donna Powell (Head Coach, Carine Cats) who has been my coach since I started softball, and has always been there to help me with my training and encourages me during games when things get tough.
Over the course of your playing career, what opportunities and achievements have you had in softball? Please list 3-4 most memorable or highest achievements.
- When I was 11, I was selected in my first state team the U/15 Regional team that travelled to Adelaide which really started all of this for me.
- In 2018 we played the U/17 Nationals in Sydney where I had the best week of Softball I have ever played. Our team finished the competition in 3rd place and post tournament I was lucky enough to be selected as a member of the U/19 Australian Development Softball Team.
- Having the opportunity to go to Japan and experience the Japanese culture and the opportunity to learn, train and play a high level of softball. It was also great to be able to watch the professional league and then meet some Australian Softball Pitchers including Mel Roche and Kia Parnaby (which was a real fan-girl moment)
What goals have you set for yourself going forwards?
Right now I am working hard on developing my pitching in preparation for nationals in January, from there my goal is to hopefully be selected for the Junior Aussie Spirit team for the World Championships over the next couple of years (while age eligible).
In the longer term I would like to attend an American college on a softball scholarship to continue my education and one day also hope to be a member of the WA Flames and the Aussie Spirit.
What is the best advice you can give other young girls hoping to play for Australia?
The best advice I could give to any young girl hoping to play for anyone is, as cliché as it sounds, to never give up. Though everyone has heard this saying a million times, it is the only thing that will get you anywhere because the only way to get towards the finish line is if you keep moving forward even if there a a few potholes. Know that everyone will reach a point where the path gets so steep that you no longer can run up it, and it’s up to you if you want to continue the struggle up that hill to reach the top or give up and walk back. That hill can hurt so much that you wonder why you are still doing it, why not just turn back, but trust me, the feeling of reaching the top is better than any relief that you could get from giving up. It may not be the last hill you face before you reach that finish line but the first is always going to be hardest, emotionally and physically.
As my household has always said: #RewardForEffort. I didn’t take it seriously at first but so far it’s proving to be true.