The Devon Cricket Foundation's Women and Girls' Development Officer, Ann-Marie Presswell, writes on the continued rise in popularity of Women's Softball Cricket.

'It's only softball' is a phrase that echoes in my ears as I visit clubs. Because the game is not played with a hardball, people think it can't be skilful or competitive or mean a lot to the players playing the game. Like it's just not really that important.

And yet, to the cricket landscape in Devon and across the nation, it is the biggest growing area of the game. It's the part of the game that's changing the face of cricket and bringing diversity to cricket clubs, making sure that a larger proportion of the community can see cricket as a game for them.

The success of the outdoor league has provided the Devon Women's Cricket League with an active and vibrant indoor league over the winter, with the vast majority of teams playing coming from the Women's Softball League.

"For the first time ever, we have an indoor league happening in North Devon due to the number of teams entered, and the Plymouth division has been re-established with a hardball and softball division playing," says Chair of the Tolchards Devon Women's League, Sussanah Maxa. "The Indoor League has been a huge success, keeping women and girls playing the game, developing their skills ready for the summer season."

Moorland Maidens celebrating a wicket during a recent game.

When asked to contribute at last year's Club Roadshows about what softball cricket meant to them, Moorland Maidens' Lesley said:

"I have sat and watched my sons and husband play for so many years but now I have found the game that I can play and I'm enjoying it so much. Now they come to watch me! We have regular training sessions with dedicated coaches and we train all year round. We take our game very seriously."

When the Devon Women's Softball League started in 2021 there were 9 teams. In 2024, there are 32 teams across 6 divisions. "We just love it. I love the people I play with, we have a really good laugh but take the game seriously when we play. It is social, but competitively so. It's brought a whole new dynamic to our club, as well as new volunteers. " 

Exmouth CC retained the Devon Women's Softball League title in 2023.

As the game of softball becomes more skilful and practised, some women want to take up the challenge of hardball cricket. In 2024, five teams have entered the Tolchards Devon Women's Cricket League who started life as softball teams and two of those teams have also entered the 35-over league game. 

Increasing the number of hardball teams isn't the purpose of women's softball cricket. Softball cricket is there to open the game up to a new audience and build more diverse clubs. 

The women's softball game continues to flourish, bringing more women and members into clubs. These women could just be players who pay membership and contribute financially to the club, but increasingly they are volunteers who coach, umpire, score and organise events or are committee members who have a different perspective on club life  - game changers in their cricket community.  It all adds to the rich tapestry that is the cricket in Devon in 2024. 

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Get Involved in Women's Cricket

If your club would like to get involved in Women's Cricket, there are several things you can do:

Speak to the Women and Girls' Development Officer, Ann-Marie Presswell:

01392 262509 / 07494 151557

Speak to a local club who has started a women's softball team. You can find all the clubs with Women's Softball sections here.