It was the phone call that brought tears of joy to Footscray baseballer Abbey McLellan.
Seven years after joining the Australian squad, McLellan would finally realise her dream of representing her country at the Women’s Baseball World Cup.
In one conversation, the pain of missing out on three world cups had eased, knowing she will be on the flight to the US for the nine-day event in Florida starting on August 22.
“When I got the phone call from the coach, it was pretty much tears straight away,” McLellan said. “I was at home with mum when I got the call, she was actually asleep on the couch, so I ran over and woke her up.
“She saw me with tears running down my face and was like ‘oh my God, what’s happened’, not knowing if it was a positive or a negative.
“I started smiling and she knew, so we jumped up and we started hugging and screaming.
“It was very funny.”
McLellan has been the untimely baseballer.
Each time she has been on the verge of a world cup appearance, she has endured a bump in the road.
Ankle, elbow and knee injuries have hampered her progress at the worst possible times.
Thankfully, this campaign is going to plan, though McLellan will play it safe and “cross my fingers” for good health.
“It’s been a long road,” the Spotswood resident said.
“It’s been a fair few years that I’ve been plugging away at getting into this team.
“To finally get the reward was incredible.”
McLellan is the first home-grown Footscray player to represent Australia at a Women’s Baseball World Cup.
However, she is not the first Bulldog to don the green and gold on the biggest stage.
That honour went to WA recruit Morgan Doty, who was playing for Footscray at the time of her world cup appearance.
“She’s technically our first Australian rep, but I’m our first home-grown rep,” McLellan said proudly.
“She was living over here studying, so she had moved to Melbourne and started playing with us at Footscray.”
McLellan treats the Footscray Baseball Club like a second home, well maybe even on par with her first home.
She is a favourite at the kennel and has been inundated with congratulations since her world cup selection.
“It’s like a big family there,” she said.
“I’ve been at the club since I was nine, so I’ve grown up there, played all my junior baseball and all my senior women’s baseball there.
“It’s my home and I’d almost put it above my first home because I spend more time there than I do at my actual home.
“They were all ecstatic for me.”
McLellan wants her selection in the team to be a catalyst for more girls and women in the western suburbs to take up the sport.
The 23-year-old envisages a future where she does not have to play in men’s competitions, like she did this year with the Williamstown Wolves, to face a more challenging standard of pitching.
“I wasn’t cruising through the women’s competition, but it wasn’t super challenging, so I went to Williamstown and asked if I could play with them under permit … just so I could get some more game time,” McLellan said.
“In the western suburbs, it’s really just us and Essendon that have division 1 women’s teams.
“The more publicity and the more people who know about it and see it being a successful and popular sport is only going to be good obviously.”
McLellan will play at first base and be the back-up catcher for Australia.
The power hitter took part in a training
camp in Japan to prepare for the world cup, but it will do little to settle the nerves come the big show.
“Being my first world cup, I’m a bit nervous for it, but I’m definitely excited to finally get over there and just get going with the baseball,” she said.