Diamond day for Niki
By ADRIAN MILLER
IN THE space of one tournament, Lismore softballer Niki Clough has announced herself as a future star of the sport.
Not only was she picked for NSW for the first time, she was named the team's Most Valuable Player for the School Sports Australia softball carnival in Perth.
NSW won the tournament, beating Queensland 6-4 in the final, to take the national title undefeated.
But it was Niki's selection in the Australian All Schools team that capped off a memorable week.
"I was over the moon," Niki said of her selection.
"The highlight of the tournament was getting the MVP for NSW. I was stoked about that, but then they announced the Australian team and it made my day.
"I couldn't believe it."
Niki isn't the first member of the Clough family to achieve national honours ? her older brother Garon travelled to Canada with the Aussie side two years ago. "He's my role model and it's good to get up to his standard," she said.
The 17-year-old Kadina High School student, who plays for Dodgers in the Far North Coast softball competition, will play in the Under-23 International Friendship Series at Sydney's Olympic Park in July.
The tournament will feature college teams from the United States and the Australian Under-23 squad and with the All Schools the defending champions, Niki said they were intent on continuing the run.
"The All Schools team has been strong in recent years and has won this tournament a couple of times, so it will be good to defend it if we can," she said.
Niki, whose main position is second base, said her aim was to play softball in the United States and hoped this tournament would be the first step along that path.
"You can't really play softball professionally here but in the US it's pretty popular," she said.
"I'm hoping to get a scholarship to an American college either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year."
For now, Niki is totally focused on the Friendship Series. "I can't wait," she said.