Travelodge Aussie Spirit set for China challenge

Travelodge Aussie Spirit set for China challenge

A squad of twenty of Australia’s best women softballers have been selected to the Travelodge Aussie Spirit squad as preparations kick up a gear for the WBSC Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Shanghai China, from 24-28 September.

No stone will be left unturned as the group selected travel to Japan in September where they’ll prepare to claim the one spot available at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Thirty players have spent the past 10 weeks competing in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league under the banner of the Aussie Peppers of Minnesota where they faced elite level competition over a gruelling 46-game schedule.

“There’s no replacement for game time against top level athletes and that’s what we’ve been able to put our players through over the last few months with the Peppers,” said Travelodge Aussie Spirit Head Coach Laing Harrow who also led the Peppers in the NPF.

“The coaching staff and I were able to try out a few things over the course of the season and give ourselves a good idea of what we can improve on between now and the Qualifier.”

For the last two seasons, Softball Australia have sent the Travelodge Aussie Spirit squad to compete in the NPF and in 2019 developed a partnership with the Aussie Peppers of Minnesota to compete within their system.

The league is made up of six professional teams which include a mix of United States and international talent, including the Beijing Shougang Eagles made up of China’s Open Women’s team.

“Most importantly, we were able to get a great look at the Chinese National team who were in the NPF as the Eagles,” added Harrow.

“They beat us for a spot in the Asia Pacific Cup Final in Sydney earlier this year and went on to win that, and they’ll be tough again in the Qualifier.

“So the nine games we were able to play against nearly their full-strength team throughout the NPF is the perfect preparation.”

Of the 30 players selected for the Aussie Peppers, 20 have been named to travel to Japan ahead of the 24-28 September winner take all tournament in Shanghai.

A team of 15 will be selected to compete with the remaining five invited to assist the final team during the Qualifier.

The selection was announced today at Travelodge Hotels ‘Softball Suite’, the ultimate hotel room for softball fans, featuring a host of softball memorabilia from past Olympic Games, including medals, equipment, and framed images of players to give softball aficionados an opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the sport.

The Softball Suite will be available to book at Travelodge Blacktown for a limited time only from August 31 August to 7 September. The Travelodge Hotel Blacktown is located close to the Blacktown International Sportspark the same venue Australia won Bronze during the Sydney Olympic Games.

Congratulations to the below selected in the squad of 20

  • Madeline Cameron (SA)
  • Michelle Cox (NSW)
  • Chelsea Forkin (QLD)
  • Leigh Godfrey (WA)
  • Rachel Lack (NSW)
  • Verity Long-Droppert (WA)
  • Stacey McManus (NSW)
  • Kaia Parnaby (NSW)
  • Leah Parry (WA)
  • Gabrielle Plain (NSW)
  • Stacey Porter (NSW)
  • Ellen Roberts (NSW)
  • Carmelle Sorensen (QLD)
  • Tarni Stepto (NSW)
  • Jessica Torpey (QLD)
  • Taylah Tsitsikronis (NSW)
  • Jade Wall (QLD)
  • Clare Warwick (ACT)
  • Belinda White (SA)
  • Tamieka Whitefield (QLD)

About the WBSC Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier

The WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania Qualifier will be played in Shanghai, China, from 24-28 September. The top six National Teams from the Asian Softball Cup final standings and the top two ranked National Teams from Oceania will play for the last spot in the softball competition in Tokyo 2020.

The host team, China, was seeded A1, while the top-ranked nation, Chinese Taipei, was placed as B1.

The 12-game opening round will be held from 24-26 September, with the top two teams of each group advancing to the Super Round carrying the result of the game played between each other. The winning National Team will advance to Tokyo 2020.

Group A: No. 8 China, No. 23 Korea, No. 13 Philippines and No. 11 New Zealand
Group B: No. 6 Chinese Taipei, No. 37 Indonesia and No. 42 Hong Kong and No. 7 Australia.

The top two nations in the WBSC Women’s Softball World Rankings, No. 1 USA and No. 2 Japan, are already qualified for the softball’s historic Olympic return in 2020.

The U.S. qualified for the six-team Olympic event through winning the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship in 2018, while Japan received an automatic quota as the host nation.

Italy will join them in Tokyo after winning the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier held in July.