Far north trio national title bound
TEENAGE pitcher and first base Sammy Hodgman thanks a tough coach, long-time friend and her "big sister" for her rise in the Queensland softball ranks.
The 15-year-old was drafted into the ACT side for last season's under-17 national titles but will wear the maroon at the January tournament in Sydney.
In the same team will be Keara White, another Cairns product who has trained with Sammy since they were 10.
Jayme Reddacliff will play for the under-19 Queensland side, while coach Liz Fresser will travel to Sydney as the under-17 assistant.
"Liz has helped us since we were little and always pushes us," Hodgman said.
"She's tough when she knows we aren't doing our best but that's the best kind of coach."
Reddacliff, who is already part of the Australian under-19 women's squad, made the under-17 Australian team last year and is a role-model for the region's latest representative pitcher.
"She's like my older sister," Hodgman said.
"I get a lot of tips and advice off her and it has helped a lot."
Another advantage will be her experience gained while playing for ACT last season.
"I was really nervous but I know what to expect now," she said.
"We (Keara and Sammy) were always the babies in the team but now we're the leaders of it."
Fresser said it was worth noting the significance of producing such talent from a non-metropolitan area.
"For a small association what we produce is really good," she said.
"These girls have really matured now as athletes and that hard work is paying off."
Fresser said White could catch, field in the outfield or at shortstop, making her the most versatile of the trio.
"It's her first state side but she could find herself fielding in three different spots inside two days," the coach said.
"And the pitchers really have to work hard on top of all their other training."
Despite being a year younger than most squad members, Fresser said Reddacliff, 17, had her sights set on making the final squad for the Australian under-19 team.
The under-17s play in Blacktown for the Esther Deason Shield from January 6-12, while the under-19s contest the Elinor McKenzie Shield in Hawker, ACT from January 13-19.
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Talented group: Gloving up for national titles are Samantha Hodgman (U17), Keara White(U17) and Jayme Reddacliff (U19).