ST. PAUL - From throwing a sock against her basement wall repeatedly, to playing softball in California just a few weeks ago, 12-year-old Autumn Grace deMoissac has been putting in the work needed to achieve her goals.
While playing with the St. Paul Storm U12 provincial team last season in Medicine Hat, Autum Grace caught the attention of a coach from the fall-winter club softball team. She was then offered the opportunity to play with the Medicine Hat Emeralds.
The deMoissac family committed to multiple trips to Medicine Hat for practices and games where Autumn Grace could refine her skills throughout the fall months, followed by a trip to California this winter with the Emeralds.
When asked what stood out in her mind the most for the young softball player, following the trip to the US, Autumn Grace said she was impressed by how confident the other ball players where in every position they played. In many areas of the US, softball players have the opportunity to play year-round, and it shows.
“It was really cool to see,” said Autumn Grace. And while she acknowledged she still has work to put in to improving her skills, seeing that she could compete at a higher lever as a pitcher in the sport and keep up with the other athletes, was a great feeling.
“Now I know I can get that good too.” She added that her future goals include playing the sport when she goes to college, and seeing how far she can make it.
Autumn Grace began playing ball at about four years old, and despite being active in other activities, she said ball has always been her favourite. And it’s not just one thing that keeps her interested in the sport, but rather it’s “all of it.”
Instead of feeling nervous of self-conscious about being in a leadership roll on the team as a pitcher, Autumn Grace said she loves taking on the job.
“Other girls look up to the pitcher,” she said, with a smile on her face.
St. Paul Storm coach Dave Pawlyk coached Autumn Grace last season with the U12 provincial team that went to Medicine Hat.
“She put in a lot of extra time on her own time,” said Pawlyk, adding, Autumn Grace grew a lot as a player in the 2019 season, both on and off the ball diamond. The work she put in off the diamond showed when she went out to pitch during provincials, he added.
Pawlyk was the one who received the call from the Medicine Hat team, asking if Autumn Grace would play for the Emeralds and said, “I thought it was well deserved.”
When speaking about her daughter’s experience, Lise deMoissac said she wondered how her daughter would fair as a pitcher, since Autumn Grace had experienced some anxiety when she was in competitive swimming. But, she has since learned that softball is her daughter’s passion.
Lise describes the improvements made in her daughter’s pitching as amazing, noting she can throw hard, fast and accurate. While she didn’t have much experience in the sport prior to her children joining St. Paul ball teams, Lise said she’s learned a lot herself about the sport by attending practices and games.
Lise also admited that when her daughter was offered a chance to play softball in Medicine Hat, it seemed like a crazy idea. Autumn Grace is the oldest in a family of six children. But, the family made the necessary sacrifices, and made the regular trips to southern Alberta so Autumn Grace could take part in the opportunity.
Lise is happy her daughter has been given an opportunity to learn the proper skills at such as young age.
One of the key pieces that allowed Autumn Grace to take part in the experience is the support shown by the community, said Lise.
“St. Paul just never disappoints,” she said, adding, the family did some fundraising, bottle drives and received support from Local Cats to help cover the costs associated with attending the tournament in California. The support allowed both of Autumn Grace’s parents to make the trip south to watch their daughter play.
“We are overwhelmed by the support of the community in allowing her to have this incredible experience,” said Lise.
And now, Autumn Grace’s focus will shift back to playing the sport closer to home. The U14 St. Paul Storm provincial team she will play on has already started practicing for the upcoming season.