NSW Firestars pitcher Monique Faul believes a complete team effort in the New Year’s round of the Gilley’s Shield today will propel the defending champions back into championship contention.
Going into today’s round, the Firestars sit in third on 14 competition points.
Only the Western Australia Flames (20 points) and the Queensland Heat (18) sit in front of the Firestars on the ladder, and NSW tackles both sides today at Blacktown.
The schedule gifts NSW the perfect opportunity to hedge back some points on both competition front runners, however, Faul knows it’s going to take a big effort from the defending champions to record the much needed wins.
Currently, NSW has a 1-1 record against Queensland while WA has been too strong on both occasions the two sides have met, winning both matches comfortably in the toughest women’s softball competition in Australia.
“We just need a strong all-round team effort,” Faul said.
“From the batting to the fielding, everyone needs to put in their best. That’s the plan.”
The best open women’s softball sides in the country will also clash for the Edebone-Weber Shield over three days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The NSW Firestars are the only state to taste victory in the Edebone-Weber Shield, a trans-Tasman competition, having claimed victory each of the three times it has been held since its inception in 2010.
Faul will be key.
The right-arm pitcher has been in hot form over the first half of the season, pitching strongly in NSW’s initial Gilley’s Shield rounds in October and November, not conceding a run in three of the five games she pitched in.
“I’d like to just keep pitching the way I have been,” Faul said.
“I’m good at hitting my low drop balls, that’s my go-to pitch at the moment.”
However, this week’s format - cramming the Edebone-Weber Shield in conjunction with the Gilley’s Shield - will make life tough on Faul.
Along with the two games of Gilley’s Shield today, Faul and the Firestars play six other games against South Australian Starz, Victorian Titans, ACT Diamonds and New Zealand White Sox as well as another set of clashes with WA and Queensland.
“It’s difficult though, this competition is different,” Faul said.
This Edebone-Weber Shield recognises two softball legends in Australia’s Peta Edebone and Gina Weber from New Zealand.
The team with the most points at the end of the six games wins the shield.
Faul and NSW’s first game, a Gilley’s Shield clash, begins today at 3pm against Queensland.
For the Firestars, The Edebone-Weber Shield begins tomorrow from 4pm against WA.