International Kylie Cronk is respected by everyone in softball but still helps out with the young players.
International Kylie Cronk is respected by everyone in softball but still helps out with the young players. File

Kylie reaching new highs

KYLIE Cronk’s softball career keeps reaching new heights but she remains a down-to-earth Rockhampton girl.

Over the years Cronk has amassed a vast amount of experience playing softball at club level, representing the state and also, of course, as a star of the national team, Aussie Spirit, with whom she won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Although Cronk is not yet 26, she is combining her talent with experience to take a leadership role for her state and national teams.

Recently she captained Queensland Heat in round three of the Gilley’s Shield at Redlands, near Brisbane, and admits to being very happy with the progress her young team is making.

“We did pretty well in the last round, we won six of our eight games” she said. “At the moment we are sitting third equal going into the final round.”

The Gilley’s Shield competition is proving to be pretty tight as the teams at the top of the ladder, New South Wales and Western Australia, are also tied and just two points clear of the Heat and ACT.

“It’s good, they are a great team to captain, a young team with a couple of rookies,” she added.

Cronk is leading her team by example, recording a top average with the bat, something she downplays.

“I pulled up short with a hamstring injury,” she revealed.

That setback won’t sideline Cronk for long and she’s confident she will be fit for the final round of games scheduled for Hawker, ACT, starting on February 19.

In her busy life there is always something on the softball horizon, whether it is travelling from Rockhampton to Brisbane every two weeks during the season or looking ahead to the next objective in her international career.

“After the final round of the Gilley’s Shield they will be naming the team for the World Series in Venezuela in July,” she said.

Despite her exceptional performances for state and country, Cronk refuses to get carried away and does not see herself as an automatic selection.

“After the Shield games I hope I’ll be concentrating on the World Series,” she said.

But is she a likely contender for the Spirit’s captaincy?

“We’ve not discussed it as the national team has not had a captain for a while,” she explained.

“It’s been a shared responsibility between players in the team.”

Cronk said the system of having a leadership team had been successful.

“We all have that quality (leadership) and it has worked well.”

Members of the Queensland under-16s girls team, playing in the national championships at Blacktown, NSW, have also been calling on Cronk’s experience as she has been training with them.

“It’s good as they are a great group to train with,” she said dismissively.

“They’ve helped me as well.”

Rockhampton softball coach/ administrator Tanya Abbott disagrees about Cronk having minimal effect on the young players, describing her input to the team as inspirational.

Abbott is in Blacktown as a spectator at both the boy’s and girl’s under-16 national championships.

With competition building up to the finals which are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, she said Queensland teams are performing well with Rockhampton members playing their part.

“Currently both teams are placed second,” she reported.

As expected New South Wales is the team to beat for both the boy’s and girls and following the completion of round-one matches Queensland only loss, in each section, had been to the old enemy.

For the boy’s team, Cameron Wright has been doing his best in the field and also with the bat where he has been successful in a number of games, none more than the match with Victoria when he batted in five team members and crossed the plate twice himself.

Big scores are part and parcel of the boy’s competition with Queensland trouncing Victoria 15-2 and then on Tuesday hammering ACT 10-2.

Even the loss against NSW gives the side hope as it was by the very narrow margin of 12-11.

Rockhampton has three representatives in the girls team which crashed 9-0 to NSW.

“It was a bit shaky,” Abbott conceded.

“New South Wales is a well-drilled team while Queensland is really young with three 13-year-olds and three 14-year-olds.”

The Rockhampton trio of Aymee and Rheanon Preston and one of the team’s 13-year-old’s Melinda West have all shone.

Aymee has the captaincy duties and has excelled, also doing well at bat with three double-base hits.

Rheanon has been sharp on first base and has also had a few one-base hits while West clubbed a home run in the match against Victoria.

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