RICHMOND — Softball has provided Vanessa Oatley with a lot of different experiences in her life and the list continues to grow.
This past season, she was the starting pitcher on the Prout team that won the Division II championship.
The Crusaders came out of the losers’ bracket with Oatley leading the way. She tossed a no-hitter and struck out 13 to hand Barrington its first loss of the season forcing a deciding game for the crown.
Oatley, who will be a senior at Prout in the fall, then struck out 11 as the Crusaders beat Barrington again for the title. She was named first-team All-State.
Since then, Oatley has been quite busy helping the Georgia Impact team win the Premier Girls Fastpitch 18U national championship in Huntington Beach, California last weekend.
The team finished 8-0-1 among the 72 teams that competed defeating the Cal Cruisers, 10-2, in the title game. Oatley pitched about half the innings for the team. In the semifinals, she struck out seven and pitched a one-hitter.
The Impact outscored their opponents, 55-14.
So, how did a pitcher from Rhode Island end up on a team from Georgia?
“We had played in a tournament last year in California and they were there. We sent them an e-mail and they said they had some film on Vanessa. They later invited her to be on the team,” Vaughn Oatley, Vanessa’s father, said.
The team is comprised mainly of players from Georgia, but has others from South Carolina and one from Oklahoma.
“It was kind of different at the start,” Oatley said. “We did a lot of team bonding events, but we really kind of bonded over the love of the game. Competing with players from all over the country is kind of cool. You can see different aspects of the sport. As a pitcher, I can develop my own style learning from other pitchers’ mechanics.
“It’s incredible to just be out there and playing in California, it’s so beautiful.”
The Impact played in tournaments in Colorado, two in Georgia, another in California and one in New Jersey this season. They reached the finals in five of the six tournaments.
“They will likely be ranked the No. 1 team in the country,” Vaughn Oatley said.
The season is over for the Impact. Oatley’s Georgia teammates started practice for their high school teams on Monday, as fast-pitch softball is a fall sport there. Teams can start playing games on Friday.
Oatley, who pitched her freshman year at Chariho earning first-team All-State, has already committed to Penn State.
“I live on a farm and when I visited Penn State there are cow fields on both sides of the school, so it felt like home,” Oatley said. “They have one of the largest alumni associations in the world.”
At Prout, Oatley finished with a ERA of 0.559 posting an 18-3 record with 213 strikeouts this season.
“Next year, we are looking for another state championship and having another great year together,” Oatley said. “Academically, I just want to keep my grades up.”