Devon's Emma Corney has signed her first professional contract with Western Storm.
"This is really exciting and it's something that I've been working really hard for," she explained. "It's something that I never thought would be possible when I was younger. It's not sunk in yet and I don't think it will for a while. When I was at school and we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, I would always say that I wanted to play cricket for England.
"It's amazing to see the pace of the growth of the women's game over the last few years. There are so many more opportunities for young girls now. They have the chance to develop their game and have the platform on which to show that off. It's a very exciting place to be."
Emma is hoping to cement her place in the Storm team and keep developing her skills: "It will be a challenging new environment for me against the top players in the country and I want to be able to show that I can hold my own and do a job for my team."
Emma added: "All of the Storm staff have been really supportive in my journey through the Academy and the RDC days. They've all backed me to get to where I am today and I'm really grateful for the support that I've had."
Western Storm Head Coach, Trevor Griffin has been impressed with the 18-year-old's progress over the last few years:
"Emma has been a part of our Pathway for a number of years and has scored runs at every level that she's played. She's scored well in age group cricket for Devon and then within our Academy programmes. She had a pay-as-you-play contract last year and played a number of games for us last season. During that time she showed that she has a method and the skill to compete at this level. It's really exciting to be able to give her our tenth professional contract for the 2023 season.
"She's recently returned from Australia where she's been playing club cricket and she champing at the bit to get going."
Devon Pathway Manager, Sandy Allen praised Emma's exemplary attitude whilst in the Devon Performance Pathway:
"This is a great reward for all the time, dedication and effort that Emma has put in during her time within the Devon and Western Storm Pathway. Emma has been an example to other players in the standards she has demonstrated along with being a grounded individual and an integral part of the Devon sides she has played in.
"We are all very excited to watch her continue to develop and show what she can do at the next level along with being a role model for the next generation of female cricketers."
Speaking in 2020, Emma recalled how she got involved in the sport: "It all started when playing alleyway cricket with my brother when I was about nine. I just wanted to be better than him!"
Aged nine, Emma was invited to play for Bradninch CC's Under 14s against a Woodbury CC side featuring her brother and went on to take three wickets.
"It's not always easy, you can't do great every game. For a while, maybe two seasons, I didn't bowl at all and was well-known for my wides. I worked hard and practised my bowling. Practised and practised."
Emma was first called up to the Western Storm squad in 2020, aged 15: "It was crazy to be called up to play for Western Storm, I never expected it to happen. When I stepped up to bowl my first ball, I was pretty chill. I thought: I can do this, let's show everyone and execute everything that I've been practising!"
Emma was also part of the Devon U18 Girls side that were crowned ECB Royal London County Cup Champions in 2022.