FAIRBANKS, Alaska - While the Alaska Goldpanners shined on the field in their 18-2 victory over South Bay Monday, it was a player on the Saints that stole the show.
Luisa Gauci continues to break barriers in the sport of baseball and for her home country of Australia. Gauci took advantage of her opportunity Monday at Growden Memorial Park, when she knocked in a base hit into right field in her lone at-bat. Gauci also turned heads with her glove when she generated a double play at second base.
Gauci is an incoming freshman at Menlo College in California, making her just the second Australian woman in history to be accepted into the U.S. Collegiate Baseball System, according to www.baseballqueensland.com.au. Gauci signed autographs, took pictures and gave words of encouragement to young girls at the ball park who want to play baseball, despite what anyone else has to say. Although she is an inspiration to a younger generation of girls, she feels she's just out there doing what she loves.
"I honestly don't see myself as a role model, I am just doing the thing that I absolutely love. People keep telling to switch to softball, but that's not what I love. I love baseball," Gauci said.
Gauci's mother signed her up for baseball when she was young, not realizing there was a difference between softball and baseball. It did not take long for Gauci to fall in love with the sport.
"The first couple of weeks I had no idea I was the only girl, but as I got older I realized I was the only girl, but I wouldn't trade it for the whole world." Gauci added. "I love coming to the field every single day because I am just obsessed."
Gauci has always had her eye on playing ball in America, and a baseball circuit in the U.S. really cemented her dream.
"I was actually in North Carolina two years ago, and I met Ghazaleh Sailors, she is another female baseball player, and from that experience I was just like, this is what I want to do, I want to play play baseball in America. I set my whole mindset for those two years to be right here right now."
Gauci is often the only woman on the field and has to prove to everyone night in and night out that she belongs on that field. It took some time, but Gauci now has the confidence to compete with anyone out there on any given night.
"I get that all the time, and honestly it took me a really long time to get used to it. Last night I struck out twice and I messaged my best friend, I was like 'hey give me some advice, I am really freaking out, I feel like I don't belong here, I want to go home.' And he gave me the best pep talk and I was like 'okay, okay, I am going to come out here today, even if i don't play I am going to be the best person I can' because it is not everyday you get the experience to play in Alaska," Gauci said. "I really came out today like 'it's a new day, I've got this'. I got the call up in the last inning and I was like 'okay, this is my moment, this is what has been given to me' and I just made the best of it."
As Gauci is set to enter her collegiate baseball career, she will continue to be global inspiration for girls playing baseball.