Softball star has a bright future

Melissa Savage was one of the star players for South Africa during the under-19 Womens World Cup in the USA where she scored three of the teams 11 runs.

Softball star Melissa Savage has her sights set on dominating women’s softball.

At just 14 years old, she was the national side’s youngest member when they competed in the recent under-19 Women’s Softball World Cup in the USA.

She scored SA’s first run in the competition, and the only run in their 1-8 defeat to eventual finalists, Japan.

She believes the game of softball is growing at a good pace in the country and wants to be a part of its evolution.

She certainly has all the skills and attitude to be a huge success story in the game she fell in love with by chance as she started out playing baseball but was convinced to give softball a try when she accompanied a neighbour to a practice session.

Her ability to thrive during big game situations could see her stretching her career even longer in the game.

The third base fielder scored three runs in the world cup to help South Africa finish 15th out of the 16 countries which took part.

Their 8-7 win against Botswana was enough to make sure that SA did not finish at the foot of the standings.

Melissa took part in six games during the world cup.

She says her age meant nothing and her main focus was to help the team put on their best performance.

“Nobody in the team treated me like a child and I was not intimidated, I was just focused on what we had to do on the pitch.”

She feels the squad represented the country with honour and showed they were not just at the world cup to add numbers.

Melissa says she knows the significance and honour of wearing the Protea badge and that it means you are representing millions of South Africans.

“It has always been my goal to represent my country, although we lost it was a great experience for us.

“The nerves were there, if you don’t have nerves it means you don’t love the game but they can actually help improve your game.

“When I played I actually got more and more excited than scared, and when the ball came (to my fielding area) I was looking forward to getting involved in the game.”

She started playing baseball for Grassy Park Crusaders but also learnt that softball offered more opportunities for women.

She went on to join Lavender Hill Softball Club and those opportunities culminated in a trip to the USA after she played for the province.

The Grade 9 pupil has only been playing the sport for two years.

“When I started I played two games and played well so I was sent to the Super league team.”

Having impressed for her Super League side, it was only a matter of time before she caught the eye of the national team selectors.

And that call came from her club coach, Marlene Peterson, who told her she had made the World Cup squad.

“I was called for the Western Cape under-13 team last year but when the call up to the national team came, it was a surprise.”

Melissa enjoys other sporting codes like football and athletics but chooses to put all her focus on the sport which she hopes will open even more doors for her in the future.

She comes from a family with a background in the medical profession and also wants to study medicine after high school.

She hopes that her skills on the softball pitch will also bring scholarship opportunities.

Judging by how much she has achieved in her short spell in the game, it would not come as a surprise if such an offer came her way. With the softball world cup held every two years, Melissa is hoping to make the squad again and to help SA finish in a better position.