See what Ipswich softball is doing well
DEDICATED coaches and officials at the Ipswich Softball Association are seeing the rewards of recent efforts with some exciting juniors identified as possible future state representatives.
Ipswich-based Josh Harding has been impressing for some time, having made a spate of state and national club and schoolboy representative teams, including the latest Queensland under-19 combination.
Now the international prospect has been joined by promising under-15 players, who have also come through the Ipswich softball system.
In a huge achievement for the association, six players will travel with coaches and statisticians to national development tournaments next month.
Jemma Payne, Tanika Harris, Jessica Rohde and Claire Durrington have been selected in the Queensland Under-15 Development squad playing in Western Australia from January 14-21.
At the same time, Josh Routledge will line up for a state boys under-15 development side at Redlands.
Harding will represent the Queensland team at the same venue, where the national under-19 and under-15 development tournaments are being staged together.
Ipswich association all-rounder Mitchell Crawford is head coach of the state under-15 development team, which includes newcomer Routledge.
He's delighted to see four girls also recognised for the first time.
"It's showcasing the coaching and the development that we are focusing on out at Ipswich at the moment,'' Crawford said.
"We've been running development sessions and representative wise, we've been getting coaches in to help get the kids up to a better standard . . . working with them at club level and association level.''
Involved in coaching, umpiring and administration, Crawford said the rewards were coming as Ipswich's development ranks grow.
"It's very pleasing . . . as once we start getting a few, more come through and want to do it as well,'' Crawford said.
"It's a pathway to making a national side.
"By making this squad, it gives them (the players) a bit of a view of what happens in a national team. It also gives the state selectors and state coaches next year a chance to have a look at the kids at the level and then see if they are progressing. It helps them make Queensland teams in the future.''
Two under-15 state squads of 14 players each will contest their respective boys and girls development tournaments in the new year.
However, the development focus is not just for players and coaches.
Ipswich association statisticians Rachael Needham and the highly respected Christine Denkel are also involved.
Needham is travelling to Western Australia for her role at the under-15 development tournament.
Denkel was chosen as a state statistician for the under-19 series at Redlands.
Another official Maddison Needham was an umpire at this year's Queensland schoolgirls championships.
"That's the reason they brought this (development focus) in,'' Crawford said.
"It's to develop coaches, statisticians, managers and players so they can progress through to the nationals.
"It's about developing and educating the whole squad to push them through and to give them a bit of experience of what happens in a national team.''
Having been involved with older representative teams, Crawford enjoys working with under-15 softballers.
"They are very open to coaching at that level,'' he said.
Being in line for the 2018 world series, Harding is a terrific example after what is being achieved from grassroots association level to state development initiatives.
Crawford hopes shortstop/outfielder Routledge can follow in Harding's footsteps after being identified at the state championships in Rockhampton.
The Ipswich under-15 girls quartet were called up after their Queensland titles in Ipswich earlier this year.