Ballarat strikes a home run with women's baseball tournament

PRINCE of Wales Park will be a field of dreams for Australia’s top women’s baseball players for eight days over Easter.

Ballarat will be the venue for the national women’s and youth women’s championships from March 28-April 6. 

More than 200 players will take the field across eight state teams, including two from Victoria and two from New South Wales, at what Ballarat Baseball president Rod McDonald described as the largest baseball tournament in the region in more than a decade.

McDonald said the quality of the facilities at Prince of Wales Park had contributed to Ballarat’s ability to win the tournament for the next three years.

“With the upgrading of the main diamond to a new synthetic pitch, the deal was we were to go out and look at new events,” he said yesterday.

“The facilities are as good as any in Australia. It’s very rare for a place to have three diamonds in the one location.

“It (the National Women’s and Youth Women’s Championships) came up for tender and we applied for it in conjunction with the Ballarat Council and Ballarat Regional Tourism. We applied for one year and we eventually got three.”

The eight-day carnival will bring $400,000 in economic activity to the region, Ballarat Regional Tourism estimates.

 McDonald said he was hopeful that would translate into an upgrade of the club rooms.

Two-time Australian world cup team member Bronwyn Gell, who will represent Victoria for the sixth time at this year’s nationals, said the home state was keen to have a closer look at the new diamond ahead of the nationals.

The 19-year-old said playing in Ballarat could prove an advantage for the home state.

“We haven’t had nationals on a synthetic field before. It’s awesome actually,” she said.

“We can come up here to train. We’re thinking of having some practice matches here. 

“Western Australia won last year and NSW has been in the gold medal game a lot without always winning it. Victoria has won it three times out of the five times I’ve played in it.”

The two Victorian teams are a more experienced “blue” side and a “white” development squad. 

There are also NSW and NSW Country teams, in addition to Western Australia, Queensland, and Northern Territory and ACT sides that will likely be bolstered by South Australian players.

The National Youth Women’s Baseball Championship will run from March 28-April 1, with the National Women’s Championships from March 29-April 5.