Please introduce yourself
Hi, I'm Irene Llorens, I am 18 years old and I live in Valencia, Spain. I've been playing for the Club Sofbol Fenix Valencia since six years now. Valencian softball teams play the provincial league 'Liga Provincial'. However, at the national level we play in the ‘Liga Nacional División de Honor’. When I started playing, I played friendly games and championship matches according to my category U-16 or U-19. Two years ago I started playing the highest category. I’ve been playing in the national team since 2015 in the U-16 category and later in the U-19. I usually play second base or outfield.

What made you want to play softball?
I was completely unaware of softball until three girls at my high school who were playing with the Fenix softball team, came to ask me if I wanted to try it. At the time I was playing tennis, and while my original plan was to play both sports, I finally decided to stick with softball. For a while my swing was similar to that of a tennis racket so my coach used to call me the 'sofbolista tenista' or softball-tennis player.

Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
Unfortunately, softball is an unknown sport in Spain. However, bit by bit, knowledge of the sport has increased and many small clubs have appeared. Depending on the category, there are different national championships; but the top category plays what is known as the 'Liga Division de Honor'.

How often do you practice with your national team and what do the practices look like?
National team training sessions which I have participated are usually one week before the championship. However, this year, the U-19 national team will meet during Easter. The sessions are based on technique, strategy, and team play, although some extra team building activities are included.

What's your best experience so far with the national team?
One of my best memories was when I first traveled with the U-16 team to Sardinia, since I had never left Spain to play. But the best moment I'd say was our first victory over Russia. I also remember much of last year's U-19 championship that we played at home in Barcelona.

What is your goal for the 2018 season?
My main objective is to work on mental aspects such as concentration or self-confidence when I’m playing. In addition, I would like to improve some technical aspects in batting and fielding. On the other hand, I would like to get as far as possible giving the best of me, both for my club and for the national team.

Was it difficult to get into the national team and what is the process?
The national team works with a large group of players from which the final roster comes out. During the year the national team talent scouts follow different players in the tournaments and in the league and adds them to the list of players to consider.

What's your ultimate softball dream?
My big dreams would be to play some Olympics Games or at least some pre-Olympic matches. I would also like to travel, to know the world and gain experience in other fields. And of course, I wish I would be able to combine my studies/work while playing in a professional softball league.

Do you have a pre-game routine?
Normally, before we arrive at the field I try to concentrate on everything that we have trained during the week, the strategy, technical aspects, etc. to try and apply then during the match. Then I do some warm-up with the team, batting, fielding... Finally, just before the game, in my club we usually do 'the race of horses' which is a kind of dance we do together to encourage and motivate us.

Do you think there is something we could do to make softball more popular in Europe?
Yes, I think that more than on the part of the players or the clubs, it should be a joint effort with the European and National organisations that should be publicizing and informing about the sport, helping to make Softball less unknown. Collaborating with schools, high schools, and educational institutions to show the sport so people can get a taste early on, and hopefully discover the local teams.

What do you think is the key to a successful team?
For me, the key to success in a team is the cohesion and communication on the field, between players and also coaches. In addition, I think that the confidence between all of the players and the belief of a common goal is very important for the team to advance together.

- Romy Marinus -