Junior White Sox player Bailey Robertson is out to pitch herself into form ahead of the World Junior Softball Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Robertson plays in the Women's Softball National Club Championships in Tāmaki Makaurau this weekend.
The club championships is a different experience for Robertson. Junior White Sox assistant coach Kiri Shaw says that the fifteen-year-old will need to be firing when playing against older players.
“It's time now to step up, in terms of our younger pitchers, and say 'look, all we want you to do is get a little bit of mongrel and have a go', and for them to have a go, they've still got to be doing that work. So yeah, try and turn that around and say 'be excited'," says Shaw.
The youthful pitcher with links to Taranaki is the youngest in the Hutt Valley Saints squad which Shaw coaches. This weekend represents a chance for the Robertson to rub shoulders with many experienced players - especially from the national women’s team the White Sox - who have turned up to Meadowlands Reserve.
Robertson says, "It's a good experience for me as a younger player learning how their ways were."
Despite the calibre of players from other teams like Western Suburbs Magpies pitcher Jennifer Feret-Brear, Robertson does not have to look far for an inspirational player.
“In our team, we have Alyson (Spinas-Valainis) - just the way she pitches, the movement on the ball and her drag,” says Robertson.
The Junior White Sox are on notice and will need to lift their standards once their preparations begin for Florida which will include matches against local travelling teams in America.
"International level is a whole new step, so we have to prepare for them as best as we can," says Robertson, "We have to be better hitters. We have to be better defensive players.
Once we get into the USA- we leave New Zealand in June- we've got some warm-up games with local travelling teams- under 18s. What we know of the Americans [is that] they set the benchmark in softball."
For many of the Junior White Sox, the tournament is the last opportunity to face quality opposition in this country before the World Championships.