Team-first approach a driving force for Kaia

Kaia Parnaby pitches for the Aussie Spirit at the recent World Championship in Canada.

Team-first approach a driving force for Kaia

If it was only about numbers, Kaia Parnaby would have been able to come away from the recent Softball World Championship content with her performance.

But it’s a team sport, and Parnaby was as disappointed as her Aussie Spirit teammates with the results in Surrey, British Columbia, where they finished 10th.

Yes, she pitched 22 innings and allowed just five earned runs, for a tidy ERA of 2.04. And yes, she had 25 strikeouts and issued only three walks, which is impressive at any level.

Kaia Parnaby

But Parnaby still believes she could have done more to help her team.

“I had my ups and downs. Overall I thought I pitched OK, but there were moments I’d like to have back,” she says.

“Even though there weren’t many walks, they were detrimental because they came at the wrong time. I gave them up just when the team didn’t need it.”

But you can’t change what has already happened, so Parnaby and the other Spirit players are busy preparing for the next big event on the softball calendar, the Japan Cup in Takasaki next month.

Parnaby, 26, from Wahroonga in suburban Sydney, will have some new teammates on that trip, with a few of the Spirit players in the World Championship squad unable to make it.Kaia Parnaby

“We’ve got to move on a and try to recover and prepare so we can get back to being the world-class team we know we are,” she says.

Softball wasn’t always Parnaby’s first love. At Newport Public School in Sydney’s northern beaches area, she was a swimmer who also played netball with her friends. But a high school PE teacher who was a softball fanatic steered her in the right direction.

That direction was confirmed at age 13 when Parnaby met pitching coach Sharon O’Mara, who came up with a five-year plan that she believed would result in Parnaby being ready to play at an elite level. “Once I heard that, everything else was put on hold,” she recalls. “The rest is history. I guess the plan worked.”

At age 18, Parnaby earned a scholarship to the University of Hawaii. “It was a real eye-opener for me. It was my first time away from home and I was exposed to high-quality athletes, not just in softball but other sports as well. It really prepared me for high-level international competition.”

Parnaby’s high-quality left-handed pitching in Surrey was no surprise to Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow, who had predicted before the tournament that she would be an important part of the team.

“Kaia is one of the best in the world on her day,” Barlow said. “Her composure and calmness in pressure situations provides confidence to the playing group around her.”

The recent announcement that softball would be a part of the 2020 Olympics was exciting news for softball fans and players alike, none more so than Parnaby.

“It’s one step closer to my dream,” she says. “I grew up wanting to have a chance to play at the Olympics, which is the pinnacle of our sport.

“Only a very small pool of athletes can say they are Olympians, and I want to be part of that group.”

The Aussie Spirit team for the Japan Cup

Janice Blackman, Qld Kaia Parnaby, NSW Erin Thras, Qld
Amelia Cudicio, NSW Sam Poole, NSW Taylah Tsitsikronis, NSW
Jemma Freegard, WA Stacey Porter, NSW Clare Warwick, ACT
Sandra Holden, Qld Belinda White, SA
Rachel Lack, NSW Tara Speakman, Qld
Stacey McManus, NSW Gabrielle Plain, NSW