Birthday girl’s baseball dream realised as more Australians flock to the diamond

Australia World

Marley Fridd fell in love with baseball when she was seven years old, but there was just one problem — she would not be eligible to play for another six years.

South Australian baseball rules require players to be at least 13 years old to participate in senior league competitions.

Nonetheless, Marley committed to the sport and participated in every training opportunity she could while she waited for her chance to step onto the diamond. 

On her 13th birthday, she made her debut with the Riverland Pirates.

“It was nerve-racking and very exciting,” Marley said.

“There are four teams and there are a few families and friends who come to watch.

“It is a very close-knit group and we all feel like family.”

A smiling woman and a girl in a baseball uniform. She holds a bag with "happy birthday" written on it.

Lauren Nayda says more teenagers are showing an interest in the sport.(Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff)

‘Her happy place’

Marley’s mum, Lauren Nayda, said the prospect of Marley achieving her goal made the countdown to her birthday all the more exciting.

“Once she got into it, baseball became her happy place,” Ms Nayda said.

“She gelled with it pretty quickly and she’s been going from strength to strength.”

Marley is one of five female players competing in the Riverland competition.

Ms Nayda said there seemed to be more young people showing an interest in baseball.

“I think from where we’ve been with the sport we’re seeing more young teenagers get involved, which is why they have re-established the development team here because there is that gap,” she said.

A smiling teenage girl in a baseball uniform.

Marley was thrilled to finally start competing.(Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff)

‘Back on the map’

Baseball Australia said the sport had grown by 5 per cent in the past year.

“We’re seeing a steady incline of the game,” national player development manager Andrew Riddle said. 

“The success of the World Baseball Classic … and our highest-ever finish has put baseball back on the map.”

A smiling man high-fives a smiling young woman on a baseball diamond.

Marley says the baseball community is friendly and supportive.(Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff)

Mr Riddle said there was strong support for women getting into the game and felt Australia’s women’s world cup entry had made the sport more visible to girls.

“With the world event being back on, that gives another event for girls and women to be able to strive for as well,” he said.

“I think it’s important they see a path forward.”

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