7 July, 2022
Jaz goes from blue to maroon
A BROKEN finger wasn’t enough to prevent Kilcoy Hammers softballer Jaz Parker from representing Queensland in the inaugural Over 35 Women’s National Championship at Ipswich.
Queensland beat Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales (NSW) in the round-robin fixtures, before NSW reigned supreme in the decider.
The unusual thing for Jaz (pictured) is that she represented Queensland despite hailing from the Northern Beaches and supporting the Blues in State of Origin.
“I’m a massive Blue supporter, so wearing maroon and screaming ‘go Queensland’ took a while to get used to,” she said.
“You won’t get a ‘Queenslander’ out of me though.”
Jaz played for NSW at schoolgirls level and then had children at a young age and didn’t play for 10 years. Now residing in the Burpengary area, Jaz has played in the Caboolture softball competition for about 13 years.
In the recent national championship, Queensland won all three clashes with the ACT as well as all three clashes with Victoria, but NSW was a different matter.
“NSW was definitely our biggest arch-rival,” Jaz said.
“We managed to beat them (in) two out of three clashes in the round games.
“But both teams were not showing all their cards, and (were) keeping the most experienced pitchers out of the games.
“The second round game (was) determined in an extra innings tie breaker where we managed to snaffle the win.”
Queensland lost to NSW in the first round of finals before recording a come-from-behind 6-3 win over Victoria in a sudden-death final.
The sudden-death final went down to the wire after Queensland trailed 3-1 in the seventh innings.
“Then something just clicked and the bats got hot,” Jaz said of Queensland’s comeback which gave the Maroons a shot at redemption against the Blues in the big dance.
Unfortunately for Jaz and her teammates, they lost the decider 8-0 to a NSW team filled with ex-Australian and Olympic players.
“They were always going to be fierce rivals and they were unstoppable on the day,” Jaz said.
Jaz said her broken finger made batting difficult at times, and that she fielded in the outfield as she preferred “to chase a fly ball than have them peppered at me in the infield”.
“I think my best strength is my ability to chase down a high ball and run the bases,” she said.
As for the key to Queensland’s success – apart from losing to NSW in the finals – Jaz said it was a combination of an amazing coaching and support crew along with having the right mix of personalities on the team.
“We all clicked really well and enjoyed the time on and off the diamond together,” she said.
“A lot of us have played against each other for several years at club softball, so it was nice to be on the same team for a change.”
Jaz said the tournament “was run effortlessly by Ipswich Softball and they must be congratulated on the entire event”.
Looking ahead, Jaz plans to take part in the Softball Queensland Masters tournament next month.
Jaz booked in for surgery to fix her broken finger late last week, and said it should not bother her “for the next big match-up”.
With playing Over 35s, Jaz said there was a need to ensure “you correctly warm up and stretch after”.
“Looking after your body to make sure you can get through each game and back it up day after day is key,” she said.