Psota on top of down under baseball

Psota swings for Team Canada. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

For Burlington’s Kate Psota and three of her teammates on the Women’s National Team, the chance to travel to Australia to play baseball and experience a new country and culture was too good to pass up. So, Psota, Autumn Mills (London), Vanessa Riopel (Repentigny, QC) and Megean Cornellsen (Grande-Prairie, AB) packed their gear and headed down under.

The on-field experience has been positive and allowed Psota her to do something that she normally doesn’t get to do while playing in Canada.
“I’ve been finding it a good challenge especially swinging a wood bat which we don’t do at home,” she said. “Training with the Australian and Japanese National Team players has been fun. We learn from each other and push each other to be better.”

And it appears to be working just fine. At the recent Sydney Women’s Invitational, Psota was chosen the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Playing for the tournament winners, the Big Cat Braves, xx-year-old pitcher was the stand out player in the championship game, registering three hits from three at-bats with two RBI and a walk. In the semi-final game, Psota, who was a 2010 Women’s World Cup All Star, shut down the Blacktown lineup in her five complete innings, allowing just two scattered hits.

Psota, 25, has represented Canada on the Women’s National Team every year since the team’s inception in 2004.

Off the field, life in Australia has been full of adventure and new life experiences for the four young women who have each had to find jobs ranging from instructing at baseball camps, personal training, promotional work and working at a tree nursery.
Spare time is normally spent at the beach where surfing has become a popular activity along with exploring some of the popular tourist attractions the country has to offer.

“I’ve had the opportunity to do a little bit of traveling since Christmas time,” said Psota. “My highlight was a six-day sailing trip up north in Queensland through the Whitsunday Islands. I also learned how to surf over New Years.”

When head coach André Lachance was approached to see if some of his athletes would be interested in travelling across the world to play baseball, it was an easy decision to make for these four players.

“This is a perfect opportunity for all of us to stay in “baseball shape” throughout the winter in preparation for the upcoming World Cup,” said Mills, who like Psota is a right-handed pitcher. “The World Cup will be big for us as we’re bouncing back from a poor performance in Venezuela (in 2010) and it’s in our home country.”

The IBAF Women’s World Cup will take place in August in Edmonton where eight countries will compete for a World Championship. Normally, National Team players would be working out indoors during the winter months and not play outside until the spring.

“Considering that three of us are pitchers (Mills, Psota and Riopel), it’s really been beneficial to throw all winter long and keep our arms in shape,” added Mills.

The women find themselves on the field 3-4 times per week participating in the Victorian Women’s Summer League and also play in a Men’s League once per week. Psota and Riopel play for the undefeated Springvale Lions, while Mills and Cornellsen play for the Geelong Baycats.
The season has been running since October and will end in April where the players will return home in plenty of time for the North American baseball season to start.

In the Sydney tournament, Mills started the championship game and allowed only one run through five innings of work to earn the win. Mills said that the quality of competition was quite high due to the number of players participating with international experience. “A few of the girls from Japan played with our team, so the level of competition was much better than the league we normally play in,” explained Mills.

According to Mills the overall experience has been a valuable one that will hopefully translate into success on the field in 2012.

“I think we’ve all appreciated the opportunity to experience another culture and at the same time, get our reps in during what would usually be the off-season for us.”