NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Aussie Peppers wrapped up their National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) season Wednesday night with an exciting 1–0 win to split the series with the USSSA Pride.
The squad returns to Australia Friday, but we got a chance to catch up with a few of the members to get their take on the season and see what’s next for them.
“I think we’ve had our ups and downs, I think we’ve actually worked on what we needed to work on, we’ve had some good runs, we’ve had some bad runs but our resilience has shown through," Kaia Parnaby, Aussie Peppers pitcher, said.
“It’s fantastic and when you speak of practices. From our first practice to we had a week off and we come back here to Bethany and we had a couple of trainings, but there was a couple of trainings in there I’m just standing back and watching, observing and they’re doing a lot of things that we’ve worked on throughout the season and really making things sharper, faster, those sort of plays that we’ve been practicing, they make it look easy,” Laing Harrow, Aussie Peppers head coach, said.
Although the team has completed the NPF season, their work is far from over.
Upon returning to Australia, the squad will begin training for the 2020 Olympic Games qualifying rounds.
The team looked at this summer as a way to compete against the best of the best in order to equip themselves for what’s to come.
“Yeah, I think this is probably the best preparation we can get. We’re playing the best teams here in the U.S. in the National Pro Fastpitch, so I don’t think anybody else could be getting better softball than we are right now; and we’re getting to train every day so we’re getting to work on things and as a team. We’re preparing and I think this is the best for us,” Jade Wall, Aussie Peppers outfielder, said.
“We couldn’t get anything better. Every day we have to show up, we know we’re going to see quality pitching every night, we’re going to see quality hitting every night. Our pitchers have to work hard, our batters have to work hard every night, there’s no easy outs and, from a defensive point of view, we’ve got to make plays so the quality opposition we’re seeing, it’s top-notch,” Harrow said.
“We’ve grown as a team and as individuals both, on and off the field, and I think our camaraderie and our teamwork’s really shown through and I think that’s what it’s going to take to actually qualify for the Olympics. I think our skills are on par with the best and I think what’s going to come through for us is our teamwork and just having each other’s backs,” Parnaby said.
The team feels lucky to have been able to train and play in a place like Mankato.
“Here in Minnesota, you know, the fans come out and watch and it’s fantastic that they’re very close to the diamond and create a good atmosphere for us,” Harrow said.
“It’s not too often you get to go into even just a store and they’ll be like ‘oh, you’re with the Peppers.’ I think that was really cool to be able to promote our sport and to promote female athletes and stuff like that, so that’s been really cool to have and it’s been a great summer,” Parnaby said.
Softball qualifying rounds for the Olympics run from Sept. 24th through Sept. 29.