By NICOLE SHARP
Breigh Monaghan has batted her way into the Mainland Southern Pride softball team that will compete in the International Friendship Series in Australia next July.
Earlier this month, Breigh was selected for the team when she competed in the Mainland Shield competition in Christchurch as part of the Central Otago under-17 team.
Co-coach of the under-17 team and Breigh’s mother, Carmen, said the Central Otago team finished the competition third behind Canterbury, which won, and Southland, which was second, after missing out on the final by one run.
Last year, Breigh was named in the same team, which travelled to Australia for the first time earlier this year.
Mrs Monoghan said that had been three years in the making for South Island Softball and was hugely successful.
“That’s why they are going back.”
Friendship Series is an under-19 tournament and last year the Mainland team played the New Zealand Development team, the Emerging Sox.
They also played two Australian teams and invited state teams from around the country, Breigh said.
Softball has been a big part of the 16-year-old’s life since she started playing T-ball at 8 years old.
It was not long before she was selected for her first representative team, playing for the Central Otago under-13 team when she was 10.
She is also a part of the Central Otago Panthers team, which travels to Invercargill every Saturday to play in the Southland competition.
As softball is not a popular sport in Central Otago, there is only a small competition, which is played during the week and has five teams taking part.
Mrs Monoghan said to get the teenagers playing more softball, they began travelling down to Invercargill last year, after Southland invited them to be a part of the competition.
Breigh said all the extra softball in the past couple of years had been a great way to improve her skills and help her reach her goals.
“I really wanted to get in [the Mainland team] again; it was pretty cool last year.”
This year’s International Friendship Series was played in Sydney and next year it will be in Brisbane.
Jade Miller,moved to Central Otago, has also been named as a non-travelling reserve in the team.
Breigh said her short-term goal for softball was to make the New Zealand under-17 team, which was quite an ambitious goal.
“Long term, I’d like to get a university scholarship to the States.”
In the lead-up to next year’s series, Breigh would also be competing at the national under-19 and national under-17 competitions next month.
While Central Otago did not send teams to the nationals, Breigh, along with Tyla O’Neilland Simone Keanejoin up with the Southland under-17 and under-19 teams to compete at the events.
“It’s a huge commitment,” she said.