Tamworth softball product Stacey Porter has become just the second player to rack up 400 games for the Australia women's national softball team.
The Australian captain played her 400th game last Sunday in the final of the inaugural Asia Pacific Cup against Japan.
Born and raised in Tamworth, Porter started her softballing journey in the town and she said it was an “awesome” achievement to play so many games for Australia.
“You don’t set out to play 400 games for your country but it’s happened,” she said.
“I grew up as a kid playing in Tamworth and I grew up playing up there in the country.
“I worked at Softball NSW at this venue for a while and we’ve had a lot of softball played at this diamond so it’s pretty nice.”
The Asia Pacific Cup was held at Blacktown International Sportspark, the 2000 Olympic venue.
Australia finished second behind world number two ranked team Japan, after a 3-0 loss in Sunday’s final.
The Asia Pacific Cup was the biggest international women’s softball event to be held in Australia since the 2000 Olympic Games.
Six of the top 12 teams in the world attended with Japan (world number two), Australia (world number four), Chinese Taipei (world number five), Italy (world number nine), New Zealand (world number 11) and China (world number 12) as well as a second Australian team called the All Stars.
It was an important event ahead of the Women’s Softball World Championship to be held in Chiba, Japan in early August.
Porter said it was disappointing to lose but showed how Australia are travelling at this stage of the year
“We always hoped that we’d be in this final game – that was our goal at the start of the week so it was nice to get her but I definitely think there is room for improvement,” she said.
“Our team for Worlds is announced soon so I guess we’ll have to go back to the drawing board a bit and we need to get to that level. We’re not there yet but we’ve got a few months to get there.”
Porter is the 225th player to play for Australia, making her debut for Australia in the 2002 Japan Series.
She has played in two Olympic Games, winning a silver in Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing in 2008, as well as playing in five world championships.
She is second on the list of all-time games for Australian players, behind all-time record holder, four-time Olympic medallist and World Baseball Softball Confederation Hall of Fame member Natalie Ward, who played 429 games for Australia.
2018 will be a busy year for Australia after joining the US’ National Pro Fastpitch competition to kick off their Olympic campaign with Softball’s return to the Olympics at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“It’s going to be game time that we lack as a country, so getting over there and playing a scheduled 50 games before Worlds will be really interesting and tough but at the same time I think it will be really beneficial to get that game time together,” Porter said.