Australian Open Women’s Squad will be taking on the world’s best women’s professional softball team, Japan Toyota Red Terriers, in a seven game series this weekend at Blacktown International Sportspark.
The series will help selectors trim a 22-player squad to a top 17 that will ultimately travel to the 15th WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship in Vancouver, Canada this July.
Experienced Australian softballer Stacey Porter is all too familiar with the Japan Toyota Red Terriers, since Porter’s a seasoned professional softball player in Japan herself, and namely for the SG Holdings team, based just outside of Kyoto.
“They’re one of the top teams in the Japanese national league because they’re a Japanese professional team, they didn’t win last year, they came 2nd in the Japanese pro-league but they won the two years before that. They’ve been in the top two for the last ten years,” Porter said.
Porter, a product of Tamworth, is one of two Australians playing professional softball in Japan. The other, Kaia Parnaby, is in her third season at the SG Holdings team while Porter is entering into an impressive ninth consecutive season this year.
It will be a busy professional softball year for Porter as the 33-year-old juggles her Australian representative commitments with her SG Holdings pro-league and her new venture, American professional softball competition, the NFP (National Pro Fastpitch).
Porter will make her debut in the NFP, the only professional softball league in the United States, for the Pennsylvania Rebellion, and which kicks off in June.
“I’m playing in the NFP this year for the first time, and there’s still a professional (softball) league still going in Italy and there’s one in Holland,” Porter said.
Although softball is very much a worldwide sport, and has been an Olympic sport between 1996-2008, it was removed from the program for 2012 and 2016. However, efforts are underway for it to be included at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic games and why not? Japan is currently ranked Number 1 in the world; adding a solid medal chance to their medal tally would have to be a no-brainer.
“We’re pretty positive about our chances at the moment, you’d think they’d want a gold or medal,” Porter said.
“We’re not in Rio (2016 Olympics) but they’re making a decision at Rio whether we’ll be at Tokyo 2020 and the last we’ve heard is that we’re one of five recommended sports being put forward to the Japanese Olympic committee,” she added.
Porter has been part of the Australian team for 14 years, debuting in 2002 and says her career highlight was taking home a silver medal from the Athens 2004 Olympics.
But this weekend is all about being part of the national side.
“It’s our last selection event for the Aussie women’s team before our world championship team is announced,” Porter said.
“It’s a chance for selectors to make their final decision and it’s always good to get home and play in front of a home crowd against an international team,” she added.
Australia is ranked third in the world behind Japan (No.1) and the United States (No.2).
Admission is free this weekend to see our best national players taking on one of the best professional league teams in the world.
Friday 19 February
Saturday 20 February
Sunday 21 February