For many, baseball in India is an infrequent sport, but how many know that the Indian national women’s baseball team had its debut match at Baseball World Series in 2004? The Indian women's national baseball team is measured by the Amateur Baseball Federation of India. In 2004, India participated in the Women's Baseball World Series. The team was also scheduled to participate in the 2004 Women's Baseball World Cup but withdrew before the tournament. India made its debut in the Women's Baseball World Cup in 2008.
In Hyderabad's Marredpally, an unsung hero VS Jagannadham, popularly known as ‘Jagan Sir’ has been instrumental in popularising many a sport, particularly hockey and baseball, at Marredpally playgrounds (MPG).
MPG is still the nursery of baseball of the State. Today, this ground has produced 30 internationals, including seniors, juniors and sub-juniors. Young players like Noah and Nathan have played Little Leagues in Korea. A few women like BMR Vinila, Ramya Reddy played for India in World Series 2004, Shaheen Begum in World Cup 2008, G Sai Ashritha Reddy in the World Cup in Korea in 2016 and Asia Cup in Hong Kong in 2017.
G Sai Ashritha Reddy at the airport
Speaking to The Bridge in an exclusive conversation, Ms. Ashritha shared her journey. In 2013, during her graduation days, Ashritha was playing cricket in Hyderabad. It was during that time one of the senior baseball players approached her and based on her cricket exposure , initiated her interest in baseball. This is how her baseball career started. "One of our seniors asked us to try baseball. So we went to the selections and I could hit the ball well and that's how I got selected in the state team," said Ashritha.
After India beat Pakistan at World Cup
She adds, "I continued to represent Osmania University in the next three years at the All-India University Games. Then I represented state teams as well. Twice I played for Andhra Pradesh and once for Telangana. From these state meets, 50-60 players were chosen to be a part of the national team."
With a background in cricket, it wasn't very difficult for Ashritha to pick up the game. She learnt the technicalities with ease and was asked to hit with all her might when the ball was thrown below her head. So far, Ashritha has been part of three national, three All-India University and two international tournaments.
In 2016, Ashritha was in the Indian baseball team which went to South Korea to play at the World Cup. "We were new to such exposure and we could only manage to beat Pakistan in the tournament out of the 12 teams that played. Then we also travelled to Hong Kong for the Asian Cup. I feel there's a lot needed to be done to take our game to their levels."
G Sai Ashritha Reddy
Ashritha believes the Indian women's team could be honed to their fullest capabilities if the girls show selfless dedication and there is a particular focus on building a united team under a particular coach.
Before the lockdown was imposed in India owing to the COVID situation, Ashritha, who is also pursuing her Master's degree in English Language, would juggle between her college and sport. She used to wake up at 5 AM to train and then again would be at her college by 9 AM. After another session of training, she used to be back home at 8 in the evening. Ashritha. "As soon as the situation eases I will hit back to the ground and pick up my glove to train harder for the upcoming challenges in the sport," concludes Ashritha.