New South Wales claimed the 2019 Esther Deason Shield after comfortably defeating South Australia.

Grace Wrixon has been named the country’s best under 17s pitcher after a dominant campaign with New South Wales saw her bring home the 2019 Esther Deason Shield as well as the tournament’s Best Pitcher award.

New South Wales marched to a comfortable 2019 championship with an 8-1 victory in the title decider against South Australia, with consecutive triples from Madi Baker and Jayde Jensen putting the blue state in the driving seat.

Wrixon – who has already proven she’s an ace with the bat after collecting the Championship Batting Award for Newcastle in the Open Women’s State Championships in October of last year – recorded 2.2 innings pitched as the offensive trio of Wrixon, Mia Gilmore and Charli Orsini restricted South Australia to just a single run in the match.

Newcastle’s Grace Wrixon was named the championships’ best pitcher

For Wrixon, the “surprising” award was just an added bonus on a fun tournament that had been a “good time” from start to finish.

“We went through undefeated, which was really good – at the start we had a lot of new players in the team so the first few games were a bit close, but in the second or third day we got a roll and started smashing it,” Wrixon said. “It was really fun, we had a really good energy and it was a good time for all of us.”

“After the main games we weren’t too nervous in the finals because we were on such a high from so many wins, and that really helped us to just keep getting better as we continued on.”

In the regular round-robin of the tournament New South Wales also shone, winning ten unanswered on the bounce to finish with a 10-0 record, three victories better than the second placed runners-up South Australia.

NSW also claimed a haul of 81 runs over their ten matches, while Wrixon, Gilmore and Orisini kept the runs-against to single digits – just 9 conceded on their march to the silverware. South Adelaide recorded the next lowest runs-against with 39.

For Wrixon, the ability to “put Newcastle on the map” in the state competition is one of the best parts of being selected, as well as the chance to be a motivation for younger players entering into softball in her home region.

Grace in her Novocastrian colours, holding her batting medal from 2018.

“It feels good [to represent Newcastle] because there aren’t many people that make it into the representative teams from the country competitions, so it’s good to show that it’s possible,” Newcastle’s ace pitcher said of her selection.

“There were two country players in the team, and the rest were all from Sydney, so it was interesting, but it means you meet a lot of new people and make a lot of life-long friends.

“It’s really great to be in the team because it shows a lot of younger people in Newcastle that there is this possibility to play for the state and to represent the area. I think that’s really special to show that we can make it there, and I love it.”

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Grace, who first entered the world of softball after hearing about the sport through a primary school newsletter, confirmed she would continue to work on her pitching to return to the state roster in 2019.

“During the higher tournaments I try to focus on pitching with the team, that’s normally how the squads set up,” she said. “If I play for Newcastle I love to focus in on batting as well as my pitching, but my pitching is really key.”

Grace with fellow Belmont Softball Club star Josh at the national competition.

“It’s really helped put my name out there [to make the team] so it’s really helping me to push for more and more as I keep playing.”

Now that Wrixon has added another tournament victory and personal plaudit to her trophy cabinet, the young softball star now prepares for another year of knocking on the representative door – she will be aiming for a return to the blues of New South Wales in the under 18 set-up, as well as the chance to represent Newcastle in the Women’s Open Championship and potentially even the opportunity to pull on an Australian jersey sometime in the near future.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what is coming up, but I know I want to try and continue to go higher, and maybe get into the Australian team,” she said. “Hopefully I can keep playing for Newcastle and New South Wales as well, it’s always so fun.”

Follow Grace on her journey through the fields of representative softball on her professional Facebook page. Find all the news for local Newcastle softball here.