Staley plays in softball World Cup
By ROB HAMILTON
Former Mount Gilead resident Kristin Staley had the opportunity to play softball in Europe in January for the World Cup softball tournament.
Held in the Netherlands in Rotterdam, the 16-team tournament started on Friday, Jan. 18 and continued through the weekend. Staley and her father, Brent, then went to Paris before returning to their current residence in Bradenton, Fla.
The Firestix, Staley’s team, placed fourth in the tournament. While each of the six teams from the United States were composed of high school students, the teams from other countries were under no such restrictions.
“Some girls had their kids in the stands watching them because they were in their 30s,” she said. “The best part was playing at such a high level — they were so good — and placing fourth.”
Staley’s team played one game on Friday before the opening ceremonies had even commenced. They then had three games on Saturday and two more on Sunday. Staley played in every game at second base and was the leadoff hitter.
She batted .425 with 11 steals and five walks drawn during the six games.
The Firestix had a 10-player team, which was sufficient for the tournament due to the shape of the indoor fields where the games took place.
“Because we had to play indoors and there were three fields, called ‘halls’, each hall doesn’t have a right field, so there’s room for stands,” she said. “There are eight girls playing and each team has a full line-up, and there are two pitchers — one to start and the other to back up.”
Staley’s team was loaded with players from around the country, as she noted that three players were from Ohio, two were from Kentucky and others were from Tennessee, New York and Pennsylvania. Staley added that she was the only player from Florida competing in the tournament.
“We had to apply to try to get it, but to be chosen is awesome!” the high school junior said. “All my teachers were so helpful because it was exam week. I was either exempted from them or was able to take them before or after.”
For Staley, a highlight of the tournament was the opening ceremonies.
“The most fun part was definitely the opening ceremonies,” she said. “There were all 16 teams there — six American and from 10 different countries. Fans were coming up and asking us for autographs, so that was really, really cool. When they played our national anthem, we all sang it in front of about 4000 people and that was so special. Just knowing I was representing the United States in playing international softball is so amazing.”
Having free time to tour the cities she was visiting also was fun for Staley and her father. A highlight for her was being able to tour Anne Frank’s house, as she’d read about it, as well as watched movies and plays. She also was able to tour the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Staley was grateful for the help she received in making this trip possible. Before her family moved from Morrow County to Florida, a number of locals had helped donate and multiple fundraisers had been held to help with costs.
“This would not have been possible without all the people who sent donations or sponsored me,” she said. “All those people helped us and without that, this would not have been possible.”