Allison Bebbere was honoured when she received word of her selection to the Victoria Blue side to compete at the 2019 Australian Women’s Baseball Championships in Canberra, knowing that everything she had worked so hard for was about to pay off.
“I think the most rewarding part of the whole campaign for me was getting to play baseball without the worry. I had so much faith in my team to get it done, I didn't have to worry about anything but what my job was,” Bebbere said.
Victoria Blue blitzed through the competition, ending the campaign undefeated in 10 games including the gold medal game, which they won 11-1 against Western Australia. The team’s dominance was demonstrated with their power hitting, scoring more than 100 runs across the tournament, however Bebbere made most of her contributions on the mound.
As fate would have it, Bebbere’s first outing for Victoria Blue came against fellow hometown team, Victoria White. In a pitching masterclass, she pitched four out of five innings, allowing just two hits and amassing seven strikeouts.
“I was honoured to be trusted with the ball in the very first game. I was a bit pleased it was a game against Victoria White as it took the nerves off it being my first outing for Victoria Blue, as it was with and against girls I’d been playing all season. It almost felt like another club game,” Bebbere said.
She pitched a further 5.2 innings in three games, each against Western Australia, including the matchup that saw Victoria Blue enter the championship game. Of 42 batters faced, Bebbere was monumental from the start of the at-bats, as a strike was called 28 times after the first pitch.
Proudly wearing the number 9, Bebbere credits her success to the ongoing support she received from Team Australia pitcher Jeremy Young and Victorian coach Dean Anglin. She says their voices were in her head constantly, giving her encouragement and persistence.
“Often on the mound I had Jeremy’s voice in my head saying things like ‘take you time’ and ‘you control the game,’ or Dean Anglin saying ‘You've got the best defence in the country behind you,’” Bebbere said. “It's very easy to pitch with those thoughts and voices in your head. I threw what my catcher called, and had faith that if and when contact was made, I had eight other girls out there to make the plays.”
Their impressive teamwork propelled the squad all the way. Trying to refrain from sounding cliché, Bebbere said playing in this tournament was a dream come true, and the dedication shown by the entire playing group and coaches only highlighted the success that was to come.
“I was proud of the other 15 girls I’d trained and played so hard with, to come away with the trophy was just the icing on the cake,” Bebbere said. “I was honoured to be out there every day I got to put on the blue jersey, whether I was contributing from on the field or on the bench. I was very happy with how I threw and can see the improvements I've worked at.”
Overall, Bebbere puts the incredible results down to two things: common goals and a solid coaching team. There were players who had their own specific role, whether that be power hitters, speedy runners, closing pitchers or crafty fielders, however Bebbere says the coaches paid specific attention to each member’s strengths.
“Our very first training session we sat in the clubrooms and spoke about what we wanted individually and as a team, and we narrowed it down to team goals. From a player perspective it was very evident how much work the coaches put in to help us improve and keep us on track to reach our goals,” Bebbere added. “They knew exactly how each person on the team was going to fit in and have the best outcome.”
Bebbere says her role in the team was crystal clear, from what she was doing on the mound to how she could contribute when she wasn’t pitching. “We were all able to go out there and focus on what we had to do, both individually and as a team, knowing others were doing the same and that would result in us coming together as a whole.”
Her AWC journey was a sweet success after capping off an excellent season with Essendon Baseball Club. She was nominated for the Women’s Division 1 MVP and the Women’s Division 1 Pitcher of the Year Awards following the team’s Premiership-winning campaign.
Bebbere entered her first Victorian state squad with the intention of getting to play baseball without too much worry, thanks to a strong support system. She was able to do just that, with a long list of valuable contributors and sources of inspiration who have helped her in her baseball career. Duane Davenport, her Head Coach at Essendon and winner of the Coach of the Year Award, is a prime example of why having coaches who believe in her is so important. She also credits her first baseball coach Marc Heenan and Samantha Hamilton for helping her make the most of her pitching abilities, as well as Dean Anglin and Jeremy Young for their invaluable knowledge.
With the 2019 AWC campaign behind her, Bebbere is looking ahead to her baseball future, continuing to improve in the sport she loves so much. She also hopes to see more girls taking to the field. “It's so great to have a women's program in Victoria to be able to play such a high level of baseball and I can't wait to see it continue to grow and improve.”