If the storms around the country haven’t told you already, summer is well and truly over and for most that means packing away the mitt and bat for the winter as softball’s offseason kicks off – for most, that is.
While most players around the country are now focused on winter codes or enjoy a sleep-in on Saturday morning, there’s two groups in particular who are only just getting started.
Both the White Sox and Junior Black Sox have World Championships coming up this year, with the Women’s National team competing in Japan in August and our Under 19s men’s national squad off to Canada for July.
To wear the black jersey and don the iconic silver fern is a feeling like no other and getting to represent friends, family, clubs and more at a World Championship is something many can only dream of.
So it makes sense that while the rest of us throw back a few too many beers, take those extra two hours of sleep on the weekend and enjoy the offseason, 40 odd Kiwi softballers are still giving it their all at the park or in the gym.
Ancelle van Molendorff, an outfielder named in this year’s White Sox squad, admits she took a small break after her season with the Waitakere Bears wrapped up but she has two goals yet to complete in 2018.
“The No.1 goal I have this year is to make the World Series team,” she said.
“For me, personally, it would be the ultimate goal to achieve to be able to represent New Zealand and my family on a world stage, for the first time.
“The other goal is to enjoy the process – might sound silly, but if you don’t love it, then why are you doing it?”
Van Molendorff, like other White Sox squad members named by head coach Kevin Gettins this year, has the added obstacle of plying her trade outside of New Zealand’s shores.
A total of nine players in Gettins’ 21-woman squad are located in the US while Van Molendorff and young talent Erin Blackmore are located in Brisbane.
But Van Molendorff says isolation isn’t an issue.
“I’m currently working with an ex Australian men’s player, who is helping me with many aspects of my game, and having that access to see some live male pitching is a huge advantage,” she said.
“I am preparing myself in the best possible way I can for the final selection of the team heading to Japan. I have 4x softball trainings a week and 4x gym sessions a week, as well as having 1 game minimum a week.”
Besides those two teams, there’s also premier-grade players and up-and-coming talent also keeping their arms winding over with ISA teams heading to Europe and players getting amongst the US action in their quest for a ISC World Tournament title.
There’s a lesson to take away in all of this – as cliché as it sounds, in order to be the best one has to train like them.
So if there’s still that ambition to be in the White Sox, Black Sox, a National Rep team or even your club’s premier squad it starts now. If not, enjoy your sleep-ins.
But for those still pushing, get that mitt and bat back out of the cupboard – maybe even grab a raincoat.
It’s time to work.
Written by the Dugout Team