Dodgers Devils’ Sonia Pope with Rahni, 7 months. Pope has found her stride since returning to softball following a season off for the birth of her daughter.
Dodgers Devils’ Sonia Pope with Rahni, 7 months. Pope has found her stride since returning to softball following a season off for the birth of her daughter. Cathy Adams

Sonia returns to mound

DODGERS Devils' pitcher Sonia Pope has made winning a habit.

She has played softball for almost 30 years and cannot remember losing a senior grand final - until the 2008-09 season.

That year, and the next, Devils lost the Far North Coast Division 1 women's grand final.

Not that Pope had any control over her team's results in 2009-10- the 33-year-old sat out the season for the birth of her third child, Rahni.

"Before those two losses, we always went well and won the grand finals," she said.

"I can't remember losing one."

Devils are thrilled that Pope, a former NSW and FNC representative, has brought back her knowledge on how to win.

And it appears as though the season off has done wonders for her game, according to Devils' captain-coach Selina Atkinson.

"Sonia is very consistent and has a great ability to move the ball in the air when she pitches," Atkinson said yesterday.

"She clips the ball on her leg before letting it go.

"This adds finesse to her game and allows her to move the ball across the plate.

"She's been around long enough to be familiar with what a batter's preference of shot is."

The undefeated Devils combination of Pope and catcher Hayley Leeson has been integral to their success this season.

"It (their combination) is everything because the infield sets up on the back of the catcher's signals," Atkinson said.

"Hayley is always on the money."

Pope said her combination with back-up catcher Jess Riley was also starting to blossom.

"I think Jess is only 15 but she has played the past two games for us and performed really well," she said.

All of Pope's experience will be needed again in the grand final rematch today against Rous Rangers, their conquerors in the past two grand finals.

"We won the last match we played against them but this one should be very close," Pope said.

"Their pitcher Loris Gordon used to play for us and she's very good.

"It's always a competitive match but off the field we all get along."



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