SUSF Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder Nicola Maitland has helped the Australian women’s Under 19 softball team win bronze at the 2013 Junior Softball World Cup in Ontario, Canada.
The Aussie Pride, as they are known, were defeated 9-2 by Japan in the semi-final – one of just two losses that the Australian’s experienced over the course of the tournament.
The semi-final loss resulted in Australia achieving bronze (there is no 3v4 playoff for bronze and Australia qualified highest of the two semi-final losers), the first medal ever won by an Australian team at Under 19 level.
Maitland, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sports Science) at University of Sydney, was understandably excited, saying “Winning bronze and bringing home an international medal was the most exciting moment of the trip and it’s the best result Australia has had at this level!”
The Australian’s were brilliant in Group B, disposing of Brazil, China, Botswana, Netherlands, Singapore and Mexico on their way to the play-offs.
“Walking onto the diamond in my playing uniform was the proudest moment of my life as I knew I’d spent six months of sacrifice and commitment to get myself to be my best,” explained Maitland.
“To represent my country and be labelled the best 17 players in the Under 19 age group was the best experience of my life.”
Despite experiencing an extremely successful tournament, the Pride experienced a far from ideal lead up to the World Cup, winning just one of 15 warm-up games.
“We had a solid week and a half playing in lead-up games where we travelled through three different countries, playing over 15 test games,” said Maitland.
“We only won one of those games, so we went into World Cup with the attitude and desire to win, however on paper we weren’t looking too good. The pride and passion we developed for the green and gold is one of the strongest memories I’ll leave the tournament with. At the tournament we were labelled as ‘heroes’ all the local Brampton (Ontario) children and families, who wanted to swap t-shirts with the Australians and collect autographs.”
Maitland was quick to thank SUSF for their ongoing support through the Elite Athlete Program, saying “It was an awesome tour and I’d also like to thank SUSF for the support they provided to help me achieve my dreams.”
Maitland was selected for the Spirit after playing third base for the 2013 Under-19 NSW team which won the National Championships in January.