Pitching in with Nick
ALLSTARS are a team that features experienced Far North Coast women's softballers with one notable exception - talented 14-year-old boy Nick Winkler-Maloney.
Nick made his Division 1 softball debut last Saturday against Dodgers Devils.
And although Allstars lost 10-1, Nick pitched impressively all game against his older opponents.
The Allstars concept came about this year to keep four teams in the top grade.
It features former Division 1 players from Byron Bay and Casino - and now Nick.
The Dodgers junior had every reason to turn down his invitation to play for the side, being the only boy in a senior women's team.
But the Trinity Catholic College student is no stranger to new challenges and he jump-ed at the chance.
"It's a women's Division 1 team but I thought why not play for them," he said.
"It was very tough but I enjoyed it."
Even a badly bruised shoulder did not dampen Nick's enthusiasm.
"Our catcher dummied to the person on third base and ended up throwing it to me and the ball hit me on the shoulder," he said.
"But I'm all right."
Nick's Division 1 experience will be good preparation for the State Under-15 softball championships at Curl Curl on Sydney's northern beaches next weekend.
"I'm really pumped for that," he said.
"I think we're a good chance; a few years ago we came second."
Nick also plays soccer for Lismore Thistles, lawn bowls at East Lismore and takes tennis lessons.
"I like being busy," he said.
Nick's mum Sharon Winkler looked on with pride last Saturday.
"I played A-grade softball in this region for 10 to 12 years when it was just a women's sport," she said.
"I never thought I'd see a boy play at that level, let alone my son."
One of Nick's junior softball coaches, Shannon Knapp, praised his enthusiasm.
"He's very talented and team-orientated," she said yesterday.
"Nick helps develop the not-so-developed players and helps promote the sport in schools.
"I thought he went very well against the older women last Saturday."
In Division 1 women's games at Albert Park in Lismore this afternoon, Allstars play Workers Condors, while Dodgers Devils take on Rous Rangers.