Sport

ACT's 'most competitive' team ready for National Women's Baseball Championships

Kate and Eliza Russell wondered why their brother William was so keen to help out at their baseball training, until he started going out with their Ainslie-Gungahlin Bears teammate Gemma Dickie.

Now there are three Russells in the ACT team at the National Women's Baseball Championships, which starts at Narrabundah Ballpark on Sunday.

Kate, Eliza and Gemma Russell are all part of the ACT squad playing at the women's baseball nationals in Canberra from ...
Kate, Eliza and Gemma Russell are all part of the ACT squad playing at the women's baseball nationals in Canberra from Sunday. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Kate said William was the one who got both her and Eliza into baseball. It's also where the family grew slightly larger.

Both Kate and Eliza started out in softball before changing diamonds, and Kate became the first Canberran to get picked in an Australian team.

The three Russells all complement each other on the field - Kate is a pitcher, Eliza is a catcher and Gemma can play anywhere.

"Will would always come to the field to help me train, but it was just to try and hit on Gemma - and now they're married," Kate said.

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"Gemma and I were becoming quite good friends and William started rocking up to the field more and I was like,'Why are you here?' and he said, 'I just want to help you train', but it wasn't to help me train it was to try and pick up Gemma - and it worked."

A friend asked Gemma to fill in for the Bears about six years ago and she's still playing.

Not only has she played at multiple nationals now - although this will be her first as a Russell - but the game has also given her a husband.

"I didn't know that Kate and Eliza had a brother. It was probably about three years after playing baseball with Kate that I first met Will," Gemma said.

Last year the ACT team finished fourth, narrowly losing the bronze-medal game against Queensland.

This year the goal is to take the next step and get their first medal since first sending a team to nationals six years ago.

Kate said this year's was the most competitive ACT team yet.

She, Eliza and Cecilia Tran have played for the ACT at every nationals, while Olivia de Gruchy has also represented Australia and Ashleigh Eldridge is an exciting young talent who has moved across from softball.

"Getting to that bronze-medal game and coming out with a bronze medal, or coming out with a medal, would be awesome this year," Kate said.

"This is definitely the most competitive team we've taken away to a nationals.

"We've had the same group of girls that have been moving through the ranks for the last couple of years, with a few add ons as rookies."

NATIONAL WOMEN'S BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Sunday: WA v ACT at 9.30am, NSW v Victoria at 12.30pm, WA v Queensland at 3.30pm. At Narrabundah Ballpark.