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Softball in Australia, mate

Softball in Australia, mate
Softball in Australia, mate
Ashley Schoen, first row, second from left, poses for pictures after winning a silver medal during competition against Australian teams in July. Schoen was among a group of softball players that toured Australia to play softball. (click for larger version)

One phone call altered summer plans for Lanesville senior Ashley Schoen.
That particular phone call came from Indiana Tech softball coach Becky Norris. The call was an offer to play softball in a place Schoen never dreamed of playing: Australia.
‘I got the call from the USAAI organization and they wanted to know if I was interested in going to Australia to play softball,’ Schoen said. ‘The coach got to pick who she wanted to go and came in contact with me.’
From there, it was a no-brainer for Schoen.
USA Athletes International was the organization Schoen represented on the diamond. The nonprofit group has been touring the world since 1992, allowing American athletes to play various sports against international competition.
Schoen left on July 1 for Sydney, a 14-hour flight, and a two-week journey away from family and friends.
‘I was nervous, mainly because it was the first time I’ve ever flown,’ she said.
Prior to leaving, Schoen had an opportunity to meet her teammates in the modern form.
‘I talked to some on Facebook. Two were from California, one each from Michigan, Washington, Utah, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, D.C. We had players from everywhere,’ Schoen said.
In her high school career, Schoen has twirled a bulk of the innings in the circle for the Lady Eagles since starting varsity as a freshman. Against the Aussies, Schoen played multiple positions.
‘I pitched part of a game every day, but I also played first, second and shortstop during the remainder of the games. There were five pitchers,’ she said.
When arriving, the USA team played games the first seven days. During that time, Schoen said they filled the remainder of the day with sightseeing.
‘Then we flew to Brisbane and got to do several things. We went surfing, visited the zoo, held koalas and fed kangaroos. We also had the opportunity to kayak with dolphins,’ Schoen said.
Among the many activities, Schoen’s favorite was attempting to surf and interacting with koalas.
‘Surfing was really fun, but we only had two hours to do it,’ she said. ‘We didn’t all get the hang of it due to time, but we got pretty close. If we would have had another day to train, maybe we could have stood up.’
On the field, the team finished with a 9-3 record and captured a silver medal in a loss to the Australian National B team.
‘Ashley was an asset to our squad,’ Norris said. ‘She threw several clutch innings to help our USA team to the silver medal. Besides helping the team in the circle, Ashley also hit and played an excellent shortstop.’
After being limited to phone calls and Internet communications, the two-week trip ended on July 14.
Upon completion of games, many of the Australian players wanted to take photos with Schoen and other team members. They also received gifts, such as keychains, from their opponents.
‘Overall, probably getting to meet everybody,’ Schoen said of her lasting memory.
Taken away from the experience of traveling to Australia is interaction with the unknown.
‘I want to play in college,’ Schoen said. ‘I got to be out on my own and meet people without the advantage of knowing even one person.’
As far as colleges, Schoen is not only looking to play for Indiana Tech, but she is also interested in playing at the University of Southern Indiana or the University of Indianapolis.
‘I’m getting ready to take a few visits in the next month,’ she said.
For the time being, Schoen has started her senior year in the classroom. She will be on the court in the fall playing volleyball and in the winter playing basketball. The three-sport athlete will wrap up her high-school playing career on the diamond in the spring.
‘I want to thank my family, friends and local businesses for their donations toward my trip,’ Schoen said.