If you live in the UK and are familiar with the sport of softball, you’ll know that the UK national team is pretty weak at present. However, the team picked up a new recruit for the upcoming European Championships in the Netherlands, and she may turn out to be an important addition.
With the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s World Cup of Softball happening in Tokyo, Great Britain will be represented by London-born star Ashleigh Gillon. The 22-year-old will play for Team England in the women’s softball event, which is being held between July 20-22.
TEMPLETON – The Templeton Eagles softball team has rowed through most of the Mountain League this season and has only added superstars to its ranks, starting with local seventh-grader Reagan Neville. She has made a name for herself not only nationally, but also internationally. Neville, who will eventually wear the green and white jersey, has already represented two countries in international competition.
The young phenom began her career in 2018 when she participated in the Nike US Sports Softball Camp in Santa Barbara and quickly gained attention. After camp, Neville, who was only nine years old at the time, was invited to join the Nike USA 12u team. Later in the season, as the youngest girl on the team, she traveled with the team to compete in Australia for over a year.
After returning to the U.S., she developed a passion for softball and coached it constantly with a little help from her parents. After playing for Nike Team USA, Neville began playing softball a little closer to home, making only three- or four-hour trips to Northern and Southern California.
I always try to think about the best parts of the game and what makes it interesting to me, Neville said of his approach to softball. I play better when I’m having fun. I love hitting; when I’m on the field I get a little nervous because I make mental mistakes, but I try to ignore that, have fun and encourage my teammates.
Last year, Neville was selected to play in a very prestigious and exciting softball tournament, the Triple Crown International Softball Tournament. However, she could not perform because the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year the tournament returned and was played last weekend, and Neville represented North County, but not for the team as you might think!
Although she represented and will represent Team USA, the Templeton native was eligible to play for Team Great Britain. To play, athletes had to prove they were citizens by birth or had a mother, father or grandparents born in that country. Neville’s grandmother was born in England.
Not only was Neville representing a different country, but she was competing against older girls as the tournament was for 18h only, making her the youngest player in the tournament by a few years. However, she again proved that the light was not too bright by hitting in her first at bat and scoring the first run for her team this weekend. The British team finished second in the international Triple Crown tournament.
For a girl who dreams of one day competing in the Olympics, the excitement of summer is just beginning. After the tournament, Neville travels to the National Girls Pro Fastpitch Tournament in Huntington Beach and then to Oklahoma for the USA Softball All-American Games. Neville was one of six players selected by Central Coast to represent California.
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