23 January, 2024
Top-two placing for Heat
Caboolture soft baller Natasha Szathmary maintained the managerial role of the Queensland Heat open women’s soft ball team at the recent national championships.
It was the second consecutive time that Queensland finished second to NSW in the Gilley’s Shield, with last year’s championships played in Adelaide before this year’s were at the ACT-based Hawker International Soft ball Centre.
This year was also the fi ft h time Natasha was manager of this Heat team, having begun in 2019.
As usual, Natasha’s role involved orchestrating the team operations, overseeing logistics, coordinating schedules, fostering a cohesive environment, and ensuring smooth communication between players and coaching staff while maintaining the team’s overall wellbeing and focus on success.
Queensland won eight and lost four of its round-robin fixtures, having beaten Victoria, Western Australia and ACT twice each while having a loss and a win against each of South Australia and Tasmania.
Queensland meanwhile lost 7-0 and 11-0 to a NSW outfit featuring a number of Olympic campaigners.
One game was cancelled due to rain late on day five, and the Heat were unluckily relegated from second to fourth place.
Natasha later said the Heat had to “dig deep with the Queenslander spirit to make the finals, playing a total of three games on the day”.
Wins with 2-1 score-lines against Tasmania and South Australia enabled Queensland to reach the decider.
NSW prevailed 3-1 as the decider was much closer than the round-robin encounters and last year’s decider.
Queensland’s Tamieka Whitefield had the best batting average throughout the championships and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP).
“The girls strived for peak performance where each player was game fit ready which helped, having to play three games on the last day,” Natasha said.
As for the team’s vast improvement against NSW in the decider, Natasha said it resulted from “Queensland determination”.
“We are born and bred tough here in Queensland and have the Queensland essence of overcoming anything,” she said.
As for whether the Heat could have won the decider, Natasha said “old saying shoulda, woulda, coulda” after she had also said something similar following last year’s decider.
“Yes, Queensland always had a chance at winning,” she said this year.
“I truly believe in the perfect world if we had more innings this might have occurred but that wasn’t the case, (as) a game only has seven innings.
“Next year we will endeavour to get the jump early in the game.
“This team is solid with fabulous coaching staff and officials. They are made for success.”