Footscray Baseball Club has depth in its women’s ranks not seen for more than a decade.
The Bulldogs have three top women’s teams all with finals pencilled into the agenda.
“It’s awesome the depth we have at the club,” Bulldogs president Lynn Fraser said.
“This year is the first year in about 10 years that we’ve had three women’s teams at the club.
“We’ve actually got teams in the women’s competitions in divisions 1, 2 and 3.
“Our ones are sitting in third spot, our twos are third or fourth depending on results and our thirds are undefeated on top.”
Footscray’s strong women’s program is a result of years of hard work.
The Bulldogs have fostered women’s baseball since 1994 and the late-coming clubs are going to them for advice on how to set up their own programs.
While Fraser is proud of her club’s dedication, recent developments have made it easier.
“Sports and Recreation Victoria is putting a lot more funding into women’s and junior sports programs, so I think that’s what is helping a lot of the women’s sports, not just baseball,” she said.
“Over the last 12 months there has been a working group through Baseball Victoria that has worked on how we attract and retain women’s players in baseball.
“In any women’s sport, it’s hard to retain players because they get married, have children, have a career and that sort of thing, so they come in and out of sport.”
One of the ideas from the Baseball Victoria workshops was to force all division 1 men’s baseball clubs to have a women’s team.
Set to become a rule from next season, that has resulted in a concerted push by some of those clubs to get an early start in setting up women’s teams.
“Some of these division 1 men’s clubs have eight to 10 men’s teams, so you’ve got girlfriends, wives, cousins, aunts, nieces and all sorts, well, you only need nine to 11 of those girls to make a team, so how about we make it a criteria for the division 1 men’s clubs to have at least one women’s team?” Fraser said.
“We’ve already seen it working, we’ve got an extra six to seven teams this season.”
Where Footscray excels by having three teams is that it can cater for players of all skill levels. Those players wanting more of the fun aspect can play in the division 3 team, while those with ambitions to play at a higher level against tougher opposition can scrap for a spot in division 1.
It is not easy to get into the Bulldogs top side.
Their team has current Australian player Morgan Doty, two Victorian representatives and Australian squad members Britt Cedelland and Abbey McLellan and Canadian import Amanda Asay in the ranks.
Asay has been to three Women’s Baseball World Cups with Canada, claiming a silver and two bronze, and was also part of a silver medal-winning Pan American Games team.
“This is the second time we’ve had her out here,” Fraser said.
“She’s been instrumental in our coaching program and juniors.
“She was this year named as the No. 7 top player in Canadian baseball of all time and that’s men and women players included.”
Footscray is third on the division 1 ladder with five wins and three losses.
The Bulldogs game against Doncaster away on Saturday was called off because of poor weather.
Next up for the Dogs is a tough assignment against top side Springvale on home soil at Benbow Street in Yarraville on Saturday.