Last weekend, the State’s youngest vied for the coveted Teeball State Championships hosted by Softball NSW at Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast.
Not only did Manly Warringah Softball Association’s (MWSA) U/10 Girls win the title for a third successive year but MWSA’s U/10 Boys were also successful in taking top honours.
Winning both titles would have been cause for great celebration but what made this an extraordinary feat is that it was the first time the U/10s Boys had competed at a State Championship.
“Winning a State title is always a tremendous achievement, but winning both the girls and boys doesn’t happen often,” MWSA President Doug Freeman said.
“It was an historic day for softball at Manly: Our first ever boys’ representative team won on the same day our girls’ representative team defended their title.
“We couldn’t be prouder.”
Two years ago, MWSA decided to introduce male softball into its summer competition which is played each Saturday at Abbott Diamonds, North Curl Curl.
“Softball is a very popular sport with both males and females around the world but Manly had always just been for the girls,” Freeman said.
“The introduction of boys to our competition has been a huge success, particularly with families who love having their children all playing at the one location.
“This victory,, hopefully will help further expand male participation in our wonderful sport.”
Manly prides itself on team spirit and the quality of the officials – all volunteers – who support its representative and development program.
The Boys Head Coach, Jade Hemaridis, was thrilled to see MWSA announce its first representative team several months ago and didn’t hesitate to apply for the top job which was her first Head Coach appointment.
Other team officials ranged from a NSW coach, NSW players past and present, an Australian player through to a Level 6 umpire – this meant the boys got to learn a lot about all aspects of the game, not only playing but importantly the rules too.
Hard work paid off. The boys trained twice a week since November. They were eager to learn new things, practiced at home and with every training Hemaridis saw improvement.
“The boys came second at a gala day held earlier in the month. We grew from this and worked on certain aspects with the boys,” Hemaridis said.
Come th State Championships, MWSA’s U/10 Boys finished a tightly-contested round robin series in fourth place which saw them play first-placed Macarthur in a sudden death semi-final.
Manly came out with all guns blazing and led right from the very start, beating Macarthur 20-11 and booking a place in the grand final later that day.
In the grand final, MWSA’s u10 Boys faced Orange, who had showed over the weekend of softball why there were considered a provincial powerhouse.
There wasn’t much between the teams for the first three innings and the match could have gone either way. However, Manly’s fourth innings was a turning point and its fifth and final innings simply superb. The scoreboard read 25-17 to Manly whose name is now etched on another shield at Softball NSW.
Hemaridis said “watching the boys play out of their skin at State Championships, not worrying about the opposition but just going out there and enjoying playing with their friends and having fun is what it is all about”.
“These boys have now made forever friendships from this sport just like I have. These boys and male softball at MWSA have a great future,” Hemaridis added.
It is one thing to win your first State Championship as a Head Coach, but it is another to make the grand final as U/10 Girls Head Coach consecutively since 2006, being the first year Softball NSW’s State Championship was held, and winning a record 14 times.
MWSA’s girls were once again extremely lucky to be under the instruction of Head Coach, Sue Brandenburg and her experienced team of officials.
MWSA’s U/10 Girls comprised four players returning from last year’s winning team and seven players who had participated in MWSA’s U/10 development program in 2022.
Over the course of their trainings (also twice weekly since November) the girls bonded tremendously well as a team. A highlight was the ‘Learn to Slide’”’ day at Narrabeen Lake during the summer holidays and the traditional presentation of small mementos to each player at the last training session.
At the same gala day earlier in the month, MWSA’s U/10 Girls went through undefeated, however there was no room for complacency.
“Gala days are a lot of fun for the players and an opportunity for us as coaching staff to experiment with fielding combinations and batting line-ups”, Brandenburg said. “But every team is doing the same, so you can never take anything for granted going into a State Championship.
“What was very obvious from the gala day was what a great group we had in the friends and families that supported the girls, game after game.”
Supporters were not let down come State Championships.
MWSA’s U/10 Girls went through the round robin undefeated before knocking over North Shore 21-5 in the semi-final and progressing straight through to the grand final.
The grand final saw them finish strongly against Penrith 20-12, no doubt a relief to everyone in the dugout and on the sidelines after the score was neck-and-neck for the first two innings.
“I watched the game on YouTube on Monday and really enjoyed it the second time around – a little less nerve racking,” Brandenburg said with a proud smile on her face.
In any MWSA team, every player contributes, every player does something awesome out on the diamond or in the batting box and those players are encouraged all the way by their officials and fans.
Manly Teeballers’ favourite dugout chant goes:
“We are Manly, couldn’t be prouder.
“And if you can’t hear us, we will shout a little louder!”
Little wonder everyone at MWSA is beyond proud to have been part of history.