Big Cats trio continue long line of National Team Representation

When the Australian Women’s Baseball Team (Emeralds) take the diamond in Thunder Bay, Canada for game 1 of the first stage of a two-year Women’s World Cup (Group A) program, the Big Cats will have three players wearing the green and gold. Representing your country is an amazing achievement, and to have three of our very own on the team this year continues a rich history of Big Cat Chicks shining on the world stage.

Two of our young ones, Lili Cavanagh and Maddy Patrick are making their Emeralds debuts after starting their senior careers playing in our Division Three women’s team. In fact, Lil has been part of the Big Cats family for pretty much her whole life. She played juniors at the club and has progressed through all three women’s divisions to being one of the key members of our Division One team in 2022/23. She has also played a number of seasons in our men’s program in multiple divisions over the years.

Maddy seems like she’s been around forever, playing her first game for the club against Mulgrave (played at Dandenong) back on October 14th 2017. She only lasted a couple of games in the Div 3 team before moving up to play for a couple of years in Div 2 before pushing for Div 1 selection. Her pink helmet lasted only one game, but we’re blaming that one on Paula!

We have seen both players progress over the years, in particular the last couple of seasons to really take their games to the next level. It is a testament to them both that they have been able to continue pushing themselves to improve and gaining National Team selection. In what is just the start of their careers in the green and gold, we know they will do well.

Lillywhite, who some may consider is still ‘one of the young ones’, is jetting off for her 23rd year as an Emerald. Whilst noting that this is her 9th World Cup is important, she was representing the Emeralds long before the World Cup existed. In fact, Shae debuted in Canada back in 2001 alongside fellow Big Cats Cat Row, Jade Hough, Ella Holien, Kellie Manzie and Simone Wearne.

Shae has a long list of achievements to note, but it is her longevity in the game that really stands out. Representing your country once is an achievement in itself, but to do it for more than 20 years is simply outstanding. Though we could suggest it’s simply nice to play for that long, Shae is still leading the way – literally. She led the Victorian team in statistics at this year’s National Championships, in fact, she led the entire tournament for average. She finished the tourney with a .579 batting average, a .667 on base percentage and finished closely behind Abbey Mac from Footscray when it came to OPS, BA/RISP and slugging % (we’ve heard Abbey can hit pretty good too)! Not too shabby for the player who started playing Nationals tournaments back in 2000.

Whilst we’re super proud of all three of the girls who will jet off in August, we’re also proud of our great tradition of having Big Cat Chicks representing Australia. Check out some of these fun facts:

2001

– Six Big Cats make their Emeralds debut back when the first ever Aussie team was selected and participated overseas in a World Series (Toronto, Canada). Cat Row pitched the bronze medal game and got the win!

2002

– In the Florida based World Series, starter Ella Holien took the ball at Tropicana Field (home of the MLB Tampa Bay Rays) against world leaders Japan, throwing a complete game winner and helping the Emeralds take home their only gold medal so far in international competition.

2004

– Shae Lillywhite took home the best hitter award and Ella Holien wins most saves at the first ever World Cup in Edmonton, Canada

2006

– Both Shae Lillywhite and Simone Wearne take All-World Team honours in the second Women’s Baseball World cup held in Taiwan

2010

– Shae Lillywhite and Sinead Flanigan win silver at the Women’s World Cup in Venezuela

2014

– Shae Lillywhite and Simone Wearne (coach) win bronze at the Women’s World Cup in Japan

The club wishes all three of the girls participating at this year’s Thunder Bay event the best of luck, and know we will be cheering you all on from home! With that being said, we want to thank all of the volunteer coaches and supporters (committee, parents, club supporters) who have helped all of our players become the best players they can. It takes a lot of work to get trainings and teams on the field, and the club has had a lot of people volunteering their time in the background to help our players develop themselves and reach their goals. We thank each and every one of you.

Big Cat Chicks – Full list of Emeralds players (since 2001)

Lili Cavanagh

Sinead Flanigan

Ella Holien

Jade Hough

Shae Lillywhite

Kellie Manzie

Maddy Patrick

Shandelle Ross

Cat Row

Simone Wearne