History

Softball Australia is the national governing body for softball in Australia. Our membership comprises 8 States and Territories (Member States), Associations, Clubs and individual members who play, coach, officiate and support softball in Australia. Many of our members have received recognition from Softball Australia, the ISF and the Australian Government for the significant contributions they have made to the growth and success of softball across Australia.

Softball has a long and rich history in Australia dating back to 1939. The following timeline traces this history.

1887 The first version of Softball was developed by George Hancock in Chicago Illinois. The earliest known game of softball was played on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 as a winter version of baseball between Yale and Harvard alumni. It was intended to be a way for baseball players to keep in shape during the winter. At the time, the sport was called “Indoor Baseball”.
1895 Softball moved outdoors as an exercise for fire fighters and was known variously as “kitten ball”, “pumpkin ball” or “diamond ball”
1926 The sport adopted the name softball
1933 Fastpitch and slowpitch were present at the 1933 World’s Fair. After the tournament a Joint Rules Committee was formed, which developed unified softball rules. The Amateur Softball Association grew out of these meetings.
1939 Softball was introduced into Australia in NSW when the Director of Physical Education in NSW, Gordon Young, began promoting the game in schools and colleges
1940s Fastpitch began to dominate the game
1942 Softball was introduced as an organised sport. US Army Sgt William DuVernet organised Softball as a recreation for the US nurses stationed in Melbourne and consequently the Victorian Women’s Softball Association was formed with Irene Burrows as President
1944 Adelaide Women’s Softball Association was formed
1946 An American, Mack Gilley, introduced the game in Queensland and soon thereafter the Queensland Softball and Baseball Association was formed with Mack Gilley as President. The Gilley’s Shield (Open Women’s Championships) is named in recognition of the monumental efforts of Mack Gilley.
1947 NSW Women’s Softball Association was formed with Pat Young as President. Queensland issued an invitation for the first interstate championship to be played in Brisbane. NSW, Queensland and Victoria, together with a team from Ballarat, participated and Victoria won the series. During the series, a meeting was held where the possibilities of forming a national Softball body was discussed. The meeting closed with Irene Burrows, Mack Gilley and Pat Young taking responsibility for drafting a Constitution.
1949 The Western Australian Women’s Softball Association was formed.
At the second interstate championships in Melbourne, the national body was formed as the Australian Women’s Softball Council (AWSC). Founding members included NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The Australian Women’s Softball Council met annually during the Australian Women’s Championship held in March, with the host State providing the Chairperson for the meeting.
1950 The International Softball Federation was formed under the auspices of the Amateur Softball Association of America
1951 Western Australia joined the Australian Women’s Softball Council
1952 Tasmania joined the Australian Women’s Softball Council.
1953 Australia became affiliated with the ISF
Slowpitch achieved formal recognition when it was added to the program of the US Amateur Softball Association and within a decade had surpassed fastpitch in popularity
1954 Instigation of an examination for umpires
1959 The ACT Women’s Softball Association formed
1960s Men’s Softball was played in various States and in the mid 1960s Nox Bailey promoted men’s Softball in Western Australia. In recognition of his contribution to the sport, the Under 19 Men’s Australian Championships was named the Nox Bailey Shield.
1961 The ACT joined the Australian Women’s Softball Council (AWSC)
1962 Three Australian officials, Esther Deason, Merle Short and Marjorie Dwyer attended the USA World Series, where they held discussions with American and Japanese officials with the aim of furthering international competition
1965 From the very beginning Australia took an active part in the ISF with representation at all ISF Congresses. The first international meeting was held in Melbourne during the World Championship. The past President of the ASF, Esther Deason, served as Vice President (South Pacific), from 1965 to 1970, and again from 1977 to 1979. Another ASF President, Rosemary Adey, also served as Vice President (South Pacific and then Oceania) from 1993 to 2005.
Upon returning to Australia, invitations were sent for the first World Series to be played in Melbourne. The Series was a great success and Australia became the first World Champions competing against the USA, Japan, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
1966 Esther Deason, Marjorie Dwyer and Merle Short awarded Softball Australia Life Member
1967 The Australia Women’s Softball Council (AWSC) changed its name to the Australian Women’s Softball Federation (AWSF) with Esther Deason as its first President
Audrey McLaughlin awarded Softball Australia Life Member
1968 Pat Young awarded Softball Australia Life Member
1969 Edna Nash awarded Softball Australia Life Membership
1970s John Reid, an ex New Zealander, fostered men’s Softball in NSW which led to NSW hosting the State Championships in 1981. The Open Men’s Australian Championship was later named in his honour with the John Reid Shield.
1972 The AWSF changed its name to the Australian Softball Federation (ASF) and incorporated
1975 After several years of meeting during the Australian Women’s Championship, the ASF decided to commit to a separate AGM in October
1977 Australia Day Honours: Marjorie Nelson receives BEM
1978 NT joined the ASF
1979 The ASF realised its long time dream of having a full-time Executive Officer, Mr Kai Roland. The appointment was made possible by a grant from the Federal Government.
1980 Pat Shearwood awarded Softball Australia Life Member
1981 Esther Deason awarded ISF Hall of Fame
1982 303 Open men’s teams and 61 junior men’s teams compete in NSW, Qld, Vic, SA and WA
1983 A further grant from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) enabled the appointment of Jim Gibson as the first of many National Coaching Directors. Prior to Jim’s appointment, a volunteer Coaching Committee administered coaching under the National Softball Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NSCAS). This Committee comprised State Women’s coaches including Audrey McLaughlin (Qld), Joan Fitton (NSW), Shirley Schneider (WA) and Nancy Whittingham (SA).
Myrtle Edwards, Marjorie Nelson, Merle Short and Margaret Swann awarded ISF Hall of Fame
1984 The first Australian Open Men’s Championship played for the John Reid Shield in Sydney
1985 The National Umpiring Committee was established with a National Director of Umpiring, Margo Koskelainen and 3 Deputies, Lyn Bishop, Michael Palmer and Dan McKay. This Committee was established the National Umpiring Accreditation Scheme.
The ASF Board was established, consisting of President, Vice President and 5 Board members who were elected for a 2 year term. A Council, comprising the President, Vice President, 5 Board members and 1 delegate from each State was also established and met annually.
Helena Meehan, Margaret Dodds, Bess Dornan, Myrtle Edwards, Rita Gheradin, Elinor McKenzie, Audrey McLaughlin, Nina Menner, Marjorie Nelson, Gladys Phillips, Judy Pizaro, Marjorie Scott, Merle Short, Sandra Somerville, Margaret Swann, Nancy Whittingham, Norma Woods and Lorraine Woolley awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1986 Narelle Stafford was appointed as the Administration Officer
Rhonda Boyd and Denise Hutchinson awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1987 Australia Day Honours: Rosemary Adey receives OAM; also receives Australia Sports Medal
Esther Deason, Marjorie Dwyer, Merilyn Middlin, Joanne Paez, Judy Phelps, Christine Roughley and Sybil Turner awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1988 Australia first participated in the ISF Open Men’s World Championship
Jan Allsopp awarded ISF and Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Carol Selem and Vivienne Triplett awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1989 Rosemary Adey and Lorraine Brown awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Josephine Loton awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1991 Australia Day Honours: Pat Rawlings receives OAM
Rosemary Adey awarded ISF Hall of Fame
Rosemary Adey and Pat Rawlings awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Announced that softball would be included in 1996 Atlanta Olympics
Formation of the Australian men’s and women’s National Fastpitch Softball League
1990 Australia Day Honours: Judy Phelps receives OAM
Janne Stevens awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1991 Rhonda Boyd and Christine Roughley awarded ISF Hall of Fame
Pat Rawlings awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1992 The Australian U16 Boys’ National Championship commenced, with NSW winning the inaugural Arthur Allsopp Shield named in recognition of Arthur’s contribution to softball
Australia first participated in the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship
Arthur Allsopp awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1993 Australia Day Honours: Chris Roughley receives OAM
Margo Koskelainen awarded Softball Australia Life Membership
Vivienne Triplett and Sybil Turner awarded ISF Hall of Fame
1994 The World Championships grew and 28 nations played in the 1994 World Series in St John’s Newfoundland, Canada
Pat Rawlings awarded Softball Australia Life Member
1995 Bob Crudgington appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women’s team
Pat Shearwood and Sandra Troyahn awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1996 Australia wins bronze at the inaugural Olympic Softball tournament
1997 Australia wins gold at the ISF V U19 Men’s World Championship
Leanne Evans and Gaye Ledingham awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
1999 Australia Day Honours: Audrey McLaughlin receives AM
Audrey McLaughlin awarded ISF Hall of Fame
2000 Australia Day Honours: Margo Koskelainen receives OAM
Australian Sports Medal: Rosemary Adey, Lorraine Brown, Mike and Lis Hannelly, Jenny Holliday, John Larter, Audrey McLaughlin, Pat Rawlings, Andrew Rindfleish, Chris Roughley
On 28 April the ASF changed its trading name to Softball Australia
Australia hosts the Olympic Softball competition at Blacktown Olympic Park (NSW). Australia wins bronze
Simon Roskvit appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women’s team
Shirley Schnieder awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Joyce Lester awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2001 Australia Day Honours: Joyce Lester receives OAM
Australia wins gold at the ISF VI U19 Men’s World Championship
Jenny Holliday and Joyce Lester awarded ISF Hall of Fame
2002 Alan McAuliffe awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Laing Harrow and Rhonda Wills awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2003 Lindsay Anderson and Anthony Bull awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Alan McAuliffe awarded ISF Hall of Fame
2004 With the assistance of the ASC, many new initiatives have been introduced since 2004 that has set softball on a new and exciting path with increased participation from men, women, boys and girls nationwide
Australia wins silver at the Athens Olympics
Ken Culpitt awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Joanne Brown, Lindsay Carroll, Kim Cooper, Kerry Dienelt, Shane King, Margo Koskelainen, Kellie Loughman, Kerrie Maddern, Francine McRae and Nicole Richardson awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2005 Australia wins gold at the ISF VII U19 Men’s World Championship
Fabian Barlow appointed as Head Coach of the Australian Open Women’s team
Joanne Brown, Ken Culpitt, Kerry Dienelt, Denise Hutchinson and Norma Woods awarded ISF Hall of Fame
2006 Australia Day Honours: Sally McCreedy receives OAM
Bill Gobbart awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Troy Baverstock, Bob Crudgington, Matt Gowty, Alan McAuliffe, Carol Peel, Haylea Petrie and Kylie Rustin awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2007 In February, the Australian Softball Federation (ASF) Incorporated changed its name to Softball Australia Incorporated
Australia wins bronze at the ISF VIII U19 Women’s World Championship
John McAuliffe awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2008 In October, Softball Australia’s Constitution was adopted
In April, the ASC published its report Too Few Too Much, a review of Softball in Australia. In response to that report, the governance and management of Softball Australia was transformed and modernised.
Australia wins bronze at the Beijing Olympics
Australia wins the ISF VIII U19 Men’s World Championship
Peter Clout, Geoff Coultas, Josh Davison, Peta Edebone, Bill Downing, Brian Flint, Sally McCreedy, Kathy Mitchell, Dave McKenzie, Darryl Rector, Robert Richardson, Russell Taylor and Brooke Wilkins awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2009 Australia wins the ISF XII Men’s World Championship
Sue Noble commenced as CEO on 12 January
On 4 April at a General Meeting held in Melbourne, the new entity’s first Board of Directors was elected
The 5-year Softball Australia Strategic Plan was ratified by the Board in May
In October, Softball Australia’s first Annual Report was published
On 14 November, Softball Australia’s first AGM was held in Sydney. Darryl Clout resigns from the Board
Ken Culpitt awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Peter Clout, Alan McAuliffe and Sally McCreedy awarded ISF Hall of Fame
Australian Open Men’s Team (ISF World Champions) awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2010 In February, Ashley Klein and Michelle Nancarrow join the Softball Australia Board
Jenny Cassidy resigns from the Board
Bob Harrow reappointed as Head Coach of the Australian Open Men’s team
Darryl Clout and Bob Harrow awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Fiona Crawford, Paul Maisey and Marissa Carpadios awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2011 Kere Johanson appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women’s team
Dennis Cullen elected Softball Australia Chairman
Annette Fidge and John Hollingsworth appointed to the Softball Australia Board
Softball Australia transitions the U16 Australian Championships to U17, retaining the Shield names in honour of Esther Deason and Arthur Allsopp
First Australian U15 Girls’ and Boys’ Regional Championship held in Rockhampton
Peta Edebone and Paul Maisey awarded ISF Hall of Fame
2012 Peter Jon Hartshorne appointed, Helen Langenberg and Christine Heron elected to the Softball Australia Board
Australia wins bronze at the ISF XIII Women’s World Championship
Australia wins silver at the World Cup of Softball VII
Baseball and softball present unified vision for the 2020 Olympic Games
Wendy Braybon, Carolyn Buttsworth, Tanya Harding and Sandra Lewis awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Melanie Roche, Natalie Titcume and Natalie Ward awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2013 Australia wins bronze at the ISF XIII Open Men’s World Championship
Chet Gray appointed Softball Australia CEO
Australia wins bronze at the ISF X Junior Women’s World Championship
Australia wins bronze at the World Cup of Softball VIII
Australia wins silver at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship
Dale McMann, Canada, replaces Don Porter as ISF President
Mike McDermid, Harvey Milson and Tricia Sibraa awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Barry Blanchard, Terry Downes, Debbie Grove, Kelly Hardie, Mike Harrow, Ngaire Huston, Neville Lawrance, Simmone Morrow, Andrew Rindfleish and Sue Tomlinson awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Bob Crudgington, Haylea Petrie and Brooke Wilkins awarded WBSC Hall of Fame
2014 Australia wins bronze at the ISF XIV Women’s World Championship
Riccardo Fraccari elected first-ever president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation in ‘New Era’ for Baseball Softball
In October, John Hollingsworth elected Softball Australia Chairman
Kylie Cronk, Tracey Mosley, Danica Howlett and Diane Waller awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2015 Landmark decision by the hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to propose adding baseball and softball among five new sports for the Games in 2020
Michelle Nancarrow resigns from the Board
Fiona Crawford elected to the Softball Australia Board
Laing Harrow appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Men’s team
Mike Hannelly awarded Softball Australia Life Member
Marissa Carpadios, Mike Harrow and Neville Lawrance World Baseball Softball Confederation Hall of Fame
Leigh Evans and Mike Titheradge awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Mike Harrow and Neville Lawrance awarded WBSC Hall of Fame
2016 The Australian Down Under Series was conducted for the first time at Blacktown International Sportspark
Homeplate Ladder Program introduced
Australia Day Honours: Jenny Holliday receives AM
Fabian Barlow re-appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women’s team
Helen Edwards and Danielle Stewart awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2017 The Australian Open Men’s team win a silver medal at the XV Men’s World Championship
Rockingham City and Districts Softball Association (WA) tops the Homeplate Ladder Program
Kris Kiefel, Adam Humble and Nathan Jones awarded Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Natalie Ward and Melanie Roche WBSC Hall of Fame
Australia Day Honours: Ray Allsopp receives OAM
2018 Inaugural Asia Pacific Cup held at Blacktown International Sportspark
Homeplate Ladder Program winners: Association: Softball Bar North Qld; Club: Blue Mountains (NSW)
Australia Day Honours: Mike and Lis Hannelly, Lorraine Brown and Sheryl Burnie receive OAM
Aussie Sprit entered a team for the first time into the USA National Pro League
David Pryles appointed Chief Executive Officer
Sandra De Witt and Jenny Dunn elected to the Softball Australia Board
U19 Men’s team win a gold medal at the XII Junior Men’s World Championship
Laing Harrow appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women’s team
Ngaire Huston and Debbie Grove awarded Softball Australia Life Membership
Jodie Bowering, Jeff Goolagong, Darryl Clout and Neal Delpero Softball Australia Hall of Fame
2019 Inaugural Summer Slam – Fully Loaded Softball event at Blacktown International Sportspark
Asia Pacific Cup won by China at Blacktown International Sportspark
Homeplate Ladder Program winners: Association: Mackay Softball (Qld); Club: Strikers (NSW)
Melissa Hamilton appointed to the Softball Australia Board
Travelodge Aussie Spirit qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games having won the WBSC Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Shanghai and finishing the tournament undefeated
Darren Sibraa and Michael Tanner Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Fiona Crawford, Tanya Harding and Natalie Ward awarded WBSC Hall of Fame
2020 Open Men’s National Championship and U14 Boys’ Regional Championship move from Hawker (ACT) to Blacktown (NSW) due to poor air quality from local bushfires and high temperatures
Stacey Porter becomes the most-capped player in Australian history, representing Australia for the 430th time at the 2019 Asia Pacific Cup, overtaking Natalie Ward (429 caps)
Homeplate Ladder Program winners: Association: Geelong (Vic); Club: Maitland City (NSW)
Melissa Hamilton steps down from the Softball Australia Board
Japan wins the Australia Pacific Cup
Panthers win the 2020 Summer Slam – Fully Loaded Softball
Karen Marr appointed National Pathway Battery Coordinator
Junior Steelers take silver medal at the Junior Men’s Softball World Cup in Palmerston North, New Zealand
Softball Australia office relocates from Collingwood to Latrobe University Sports Stadium
IOC reschedule the Tokyo Olympic Games to July 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic
David Metekingi appointed as inaugural Head Coach of the Australian U23 Men’s team
Softball Australia withdraw from 2020 National pro-Fastpitch season due to COVID-19 pandemic
Philippa Wright appointed to the Softball Australia Board
Open Women’s National Championship, U23 National Championships and International Friendship Series cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
Adam Rindfleish reappointed Head Coach of the Junior Steelers
WBSC reschedule Men’s Softball World Cup to 2022 due to COVID-19 pandemic
Queen’s Birthday Honours: Peter Edebone, Deb Keogh, Kerry Franklin, Vicki Warren, John Larter and Andrew Rindfleish receive OAM; Debbie Grove receives AM
WBSC reschedule Women’s Softball World Cup to 2023 due to COVID-19 pandemic
Travelodge recommit to naming rights sponsorship of the Australian Women’s team through to October 2021
Geelong Softball Association (Vic) and Maitland City Softball Club (NSW) top Homeplate Ladders in 2019/2020
John Hollingsworth steps down as Chair of the Softball Australia Board
Peter Jon Hartshorne elected Chair of the Softball Australia Board
Inaugural Australian U23 Men’s Squad announced
Over 35 National Championships announced for introduction in July 2021
National Championships rescheduled due to COVID-19 pandemic
Softball Australia introduce #BackOnBase Grants worth $60,000 to affiliated Softball Associations and Clubs
WBSC reschedule Junior Women’s World Championship due to COVID-19 pandemic; Softball Australia announce the Junior Spirit will not be attending
Softball Australia hold first ever virtual AGM
John Hollingsworth and Helen Langenberg’s tenure on Softball Australia Board ends
Richard Lindell and Philippa Wright elected to the Softball Australia Board at AGM on 10 October
Belinda Barnes (nee Wright) and Natalie Hodgskin (nee Shapiro) inducted into the Softball Australia Hall of Fame
Travelodge Aussie Spirit Squad of 20 announced