Softballer receives Country Athlete of the Year accolade

TOP ACHIEVEMENT: Mount Gambier softballer Georgia Hood (right) took out the 2018 SA Country Athlete of the Year award recently. She is pictured with CEO of Softball South Australia James Harris.

MOUNT Gambier softballer Georgia Hood has been announced as Country Athlete of the Year at the recent 2018 Sport SA awards night.

To make the achievement even more impressive, the 18-year-old completed her Year 12 studies and juggled a part-time job on top of her frequent trips to Adelaide, as well as interstate to compete in her sport of choice.

Hood said she did not expect to receive the award, as she was up against some tough competition in the final three.

“There were three finalists and the others were all at a pretty high level as well,” she said.

“So it was pretty good to win.

“It is probably my biggest award for softball so far.”

The other finalists included 2018 national Khanacross champion Bradley Clements and 14-year-old swimming gun Harliai Curthoys-Davies.

To be in the running for the award Hood was nominated along with a player profile of all her softball achievements – a list which is nothing short of impressive.

“One of the people who work for Softball SA actually nominated me and then there were three finalists picked from all the nominations,” she said.

“Then we went to a dinner and that was when the winner was announced.”

Having played softball since she was seven years old for Warriors in the Mount Gambier Softball Association, Hood has worked her way up the ranks and is currently part of both the South

Australian Under 19 and Open women’s softball teams, as well as the national Under 19 women’s squad.

In January this year Hood was named as the most valuable player in the women’s Under 19 national championships, which was another achievement she said she “was not expecting”.

She was also named MVP for the SA Under 19 women this year.

In 2017 Hood took her softball to the international stage as she travelled to Florida, USA, as part of the Australian Under 19 women’s team to compete in the World Championships.

“It was very different (to Australia), but was a good experience,” she said.

Currently she plays in both the Hills Softball Association for the Torrens Valley Redsox, as well as the Hills Heat – selected from players within the Hills Association – in the Adelaide club competition.

She has her eyes set on next year’s Australian Under 19 team and hopes to make the side again in her final junior year.

From there she will look to make the Australian Open women’s team, with the Olympics her “ultimate goal”, as the sport returns to the 2020 games.

It is often uncommon for a regional athlete to remain in their home town when competing at such a high level, but Hood said she was not ready to make the move to the city just yet.

“I do not think I am going to move yet, but it is playing on my mind quite a bit,” she said.

“It’s probably the most appropriate thing to do.”

Her older sister Amber, who is also a nationally-recognised softballer, also graduated in Mount Gambier, but has since made the move to Adelaide.

The juggle of school, work and travel for softball is something Hood has managed well and she said it was not until her final Year 12 exams it became more difficult.

“It was not too bad until exams, then I struggled a little bit,” she said.

“But it could have been worse.”

Looking into the new year, Hood will make the trip to Perth for the Open women’s national championships starting on January 5, before returning home for a week and then flying to Sydney for the Under 19 nationals.