Roberts Plays for Australian Softball U19 Team in Junior World Championship
Jan. 13, 2012
By Bryan McEldowney
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Ellen Roberts, a sophomore pitcher/first baseman for the University of Memphis softball team, participated for the U19 Australian Women's Softball Team this past year. In December, the team competed in the 2011 IX ISF Junior Women's World Championships held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Last January, Roberts was selected as one of 32 players that formed the pool of candidates for the U19 team. The 32-member squad practiced together and played exhibition games against colleges and universities, before being pared down to a team of 17 players for the tournament. Roberts learned in July that she would participate in the world championships for her native Australia.
Roberts returned to Memphis for the fall semester, but she had her work cut out for her. She coordinated with Memphis head coach Natalie Poole and her professors to ensure she was meeting both her training and classroom obligations. In order to fulfill her responsibilities for Aussie Pride, as the team is nicknamed, Roberts had to leave Memphis four weeks before the end of the fall semester.
"[The Australian coaches] told me a little bit about what they wanted from Ellen. They wanted her to be a hitter. She might see some first base time, as well as pitching. We tried to meet all those needs," stated Poole. "We also stayed in contact with [Roberts'] teachers. She did a great job. She finished really well academically, even though she left probably 3-4 weeks early."
Roberts and the rest of the U19-team spent one week training in Australia then embarked on the journey to Cape Town, South Africa for the 2011 IX ISF Junior Women's World Championships. Once in South Africa, the players had another seven days to adjust to the time change, practice and explore Cape Town.
"I loved going up to Table Top Mountain. I thought it was really pretty," stated Roberts. "The mountain is called Table Top because it was flat and I just thought it was really nice. You can see all over Cape Town and how it was set out. It was really cool."
Aussie Pride was placed in Pool B, where it defeated Russia, Brazil, Germany, Zimbabwe, Chinese Taipei and Argentina and fell only to Japan on its way to a second-place finish. In the elimination stage of the Championship, the team fell in the opening game to the United States, 7-4. Roberts pitched 3.1 innings in the game, giving up a pair of runs and striking out three batters.
Roberts' team rebounded to defeat Brazil, before dropping a closely contested matchup against Chinese Taipei, 3-2, earning a fourth place finish.
"Overall, the level of competition was tough. Many of the teams were pretty even, so it came down to who did the job on the day" said Roberts. "There was a great group of athletes there that were playing internationally at a high level."
Roberts appeared in four games for Aussie Pride in the Junior World Championships, pitching a total of 11.1 innings, giving up four earned runs on 15 hits and striking out nine batters.
Poole saw the benefits of Roberts playing for her national team, both from the perspective of the program and for Roberts.
"When you talk recruiting, we're a program that is willing to think outside of the box and not recruit just nationally, but internationally," said Poole. "Roberts is a good, strong kid. She's got a great body. She throws the ball hard. She really works hard and is the right fit for this program."