HIRARI Kurihara just wants to have fun. It’s when she is most free, at her happiest, and plays her absolute best softball.
Kurihara has represented Queensland for the past three years, but has now been given the opportunity to play for Australia’s under-17s.
It’s not something the Japan-born infielder expected, especially considering how she viewed her most recent performances in maroon.
Kurihara puts it down to pressure.
“My first year for Queensland, I wasn’t thinking,” she said.
“I felt less pressure, I was easy going when I played so I played better in that first year.
“It was for the experience, ‘this is cool and maybe I won’t be here again’ so I went out and had fun.
“The next year it went downhill – I think I pressured myself. When I got selected that second year I thought I’d have to improve myself and I think I put more pressure on myself.”
Perhaps the 16-year-old is being too harsh on herself – she will represent Australia in just a few short months – but it is a fascinating insight into how the Red Sox star’s mind works. She is driven to be her best, and while – by her self-assessment – she doesn’t contribute as she would like to her team’s results at state level, there is no doubting the immeasurable impact her confidence and demeanour have to any playing group.
But Kurihara still couldn’t quite believe she earned the opportunity.
“I was really shocked, really surprised,” she said.
“It’s the first time, but I didn’t really get the best result at nationals.
“The team result, my own personal performance, it was bad so I didn’t expect it.”