Please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Sabina Vitkova, I am twenty-one years old, and I’m from the Czech Republic. I play for Eagles Prague and I started playing baseball when I was only 6 years old. Later on, I decided to focus on softball only. I play in the first league of my country. We have three leagues in total and there are about eight teams in each league. The first time I wore a Czech national team jersey was when I was 15. It has always been a pleasure to be a part of something that I have a lot of pride for. I feel honored to have the opportunity to represent my country. My primary positions are third base and second base.

What made you want to play softball?
When I was five years old, I was running around in kindergarten and one of my friends' mom was a coach for a baseball team. She asked my mom later if I would be interested in coming to practice because it looked like I had all the abilities for the sport. I said yes, and ever since the first day I put on a baseball glove I totally fell in love with it.

Can you tell me something about softball in your home country?
I feel so amazing about the level of softball here in past few years. It has grown so much in many different aspects. In the first league, we have eight teams and I would say they practice about three times a week. They also do some extra conditioning on their own because it’s very hard to go to work and also find time for softball practice. Softball hasn’t grown here to the point where we can get paid for it on the daily.

Was it hard to get into your college softball team and what was the process?
I think all the hard work paid off when I got my first offer in Oklahoma City. That is when I realized that the dream I had all my life just came true. Since I was young I have always chose to go to the field in my free time instead of hanging out with friends and doing nothing. I always made softball my first priority and I think that’s the key to reaching your goal. It’s important to make a video of yourself, showing your skills,  and sending it out to many universities. Then at that point, you are just waiting for their answers and keeping your fingers crossed that you receive a good offer.

How do you look back on your college period?
I would never regret anything in my life, including college softball. I took it as an amazing opportunity to grow as a person and as a player. It was two years of very hard work on the daily with no excuses. I really like the work ethic that American softball has. You have to come to practice every day and give it all you have. I miss the bus drives with my teammates and just all the people that I have met there. I always smile when I look back at all the memories.

What are the biggest differences between European and American softball?
The biggest differences between European and American softball is the attitude and the hunger for the game. In the USA you can always see it on their faces. You can see that they want it all and their actions show it too by how hard they are always hustling. They never settle for anything under their level, even if the opponent is not as good as them or on a lower level. Europe, on the other hand, is still peaking. We are getting there and more and more players are starting to have that mentality, but I don’t think we are fully there yet.

How did you like the European Championship this year and are you satisfied with the outcome?
This year I had the opportunity to go to Slovakia for the European Championship U22. We started off well and it seemed like we could end up in a position to get a medal. But, I think our energy and power went down and we just couldn’t do it anymore. I wish we would have been able to get a medal, but sadly we didn’t make it that far.

What's your best experience so far with the national team?
The best experience that I ever had was winning the junior European championship in Rosmalen in 2014. I will never forget that feeling. It was an amazing team filled with girls that had one common goal and we knew that the only way we could make it happen was if we worked together.

What do you think is the key to a successful team?
I think some of the key components to team success comes down to just having the right fundamentals in order to compete, being focused, hustling, and working together as a team. This is where practice comes into play and shows how important it is to work on fundamentals and get it down in practice, so that when it comes to the game, it is like second nature to you. I think it is also important to keep your head in the game and stay focused on the goal. Hustling is something that coaches look at, and something that makes a huge difference. Putting forth all the effort you can possibly give can make all the difference in the result of a game. And lastly, teamwork. Not a single individual can win a softball game on their own. It is crucial that you work with your teammates and everyone knows their role and how they are going to contribute.

- Romy Marinus -