What impressed everyone most is that despite pitching for the 3rd and 4th time ever in a ‘competitive’ game, she was not at all phased by the situation, with the game and the tournament on the line, or by the hitters she was facing
There are players who tend to rise for the big occasion, and those players end up making a difference in the outcomes of important games. The ability of a team to win big games against strong opponents often depends on how many such players there are on the team. During the preparation stage of the Gozo Cup 2018 Fastpitch Softball International Tournament the organising committee decided to reward those players who stand out over the two games. Three awards were selected; BEST FIELDER, BEST HITTER, and MOST VALUABLE PLAYER. Due to the high skill level, and the experience of the visiting international players, everyone within the organising committee expected the three awards to go to the players representing Olympia Haarlem and SK Princ Zagreb.
As a matter of fact, the BEST HITTER award went to Mara Sliško from SK Princ Zagreb. Mara is a very promising young softball player who plays for the Croatian national team. She is very versatile and can play any position on the field. She has a very nice swing and was able to connect for a solid base hit in Game 1. Congratulations Mara!
Everyone knew that the players of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats have come a long way over the past two years as a result of the processes of capacity building and the sharing of best practices built into the Erasmus+ Sports project Inclusion & Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS). Efforts were also made to build the self-confidence of the players through sport psychology seminars as well as through the continuous process of empowering the young athletes. What was uncertain going into the Gozo Cup weekend, was where the level of the local players stands when compared to the senior players of top European clubs, and how the players would perform when under pressure during a ‘big’ game.
It is fair to say that all of the Redcoats showed that they belong, either with a quality at bat, solid contact with the ball, smart base running, or a good defensive play. Both catchers, Marilise Vella and Corinne Grima stood out behind home plate with each making important assists and put-outs. Laragh Tabone, Gianella Mallia, Monique Camilleri, Ilena Buttigieg, Simona Refalo and Rebecca Grech all looked comfortable playing infield position and delivered when they were called upon to make plays. So did outfielders, Marija Vella, Nadine Grima, Emma Mercieca, and Kimberley Scerri, they didn’t let any ball go past them and were quick to throw the ball back in to the infielders once they fielded it.
However, there were three Redcoats who stood out more than the others.
Daphne Cassar is gradually becoming one of the best players on the Redcoats team. Her acrobatic plays at 1st base along with her consistency and reliability at that very important position has earned her a nomination for Best Fielder at the awards of the Malta Baseball & Softball Association for season 2017/18. Despite having a good swing she struggled at the plate last season. After making slight adjustments over the summer she started to hit the ball really well. In Zagreb she had a very important base hit to lead off the first game. This carried on during the Gozo Cup where she was the only local player with multiple hits, registering three hits. She was also the only player to hit a triple. She also batted a run in, and scored two runs. Daphne has many reasons to be proud of her performances during the two games. Well done. Keep it up, Daphne!
Much is expected of Estelle Scicluna whenever she plays for the Redcoats. She pitched every inning of every game her team played last season, winning both the winter tournament and the National Championship both organised by the Malta Baseball & Softball Association. She was nominated for the MVP award for both competitions. She is also becoming a very good hitter, often coming up big when her team needs her most. She got the big hit in Zagreb to drive in two runs for a walk-off win for the Redcoats. During the Gozo Cup she hit a line drive to centre field for a base hit in the very first pitch she saw in Game 1. Over the weekend, she wasn’t at her best when pitching allowing eleven runs in four innings. Estelle impressed most with her fielding while playing at short stop. Strangely enough, it was the first time that she was playing that position. It is not just the several assists and put outs that she made, but for the range she demonstrated, getting to balls and fielding them in the way high level players do, that made her stand out. Estelle was awarded BEST FIELDER of the tournament. Congratulations Estelle!
Who would have thought that young Monique Attard would win the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER award of the Gozo Cup 2018 Fastpitch Softball International Tournament? She was clearly the player of the game for Game 2. She pitched four innings to close the game, allowing just three runs, giving up just one hit, walking four and striking out two. Even in Game 1 she held her own. What impressed everyone most is that despite pitching for the 3rd and 4th time ever in a ‘competitive’ game, she was not at all phased by the situation, with the game and the tournament on the line, or by the hitters she was facing. Monique was deservedly awarded MOST VALUABLE PLAYER. Congratulations Monique!
Those who were not discouraged by the weather and the continuous threat of rain during the two games, or the ‘long’ drive to the Għarb Stadium, were entertained by some really outstanding personal performances from the 26 players who participated in the Gozo Cup 2018 Fastpitch Softball International Tournament. The idea to host an international tournament in Gozo turned out to be a huge success despite the weather. It was a win-win for everyone involved. Softball in Malta benefited from having such a high level game being played in Gozo, the local players gained tremendously from the empowering experience, and it was a very good break for the visiting international players who were extremely satisfied to have been able to contribute towards the growth of the game in Malta and to help the Erasmus+ sports project IGETS achieve its aims and fulfil its dissemination obligations. There will definitely be a Gozo Cup 2019 Fastpitch Softball International Tournament.
IGETS is a two-year project co-financed by the European Union. The Għajnsielem Redcoats received assistance from the Ministry of Education and Employment through the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport & Voluntary Organisations to meet its co-financing obligations.
Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.