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Washington's Gabbie Plain Balances NCAA Goals, Olympic Dream

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(Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

It’s no secret that 2020 was a year of uncomfortable change and learning how to adapt on the fly. Washington ace Gabbie Plain may have learned that lesson as much as anyone else last year.

In 2020, Plain's softball journey was supposed to stretch three continents, as she was set to compete with Washington in the U.S., train and try out for the Olympic team with her teammates in Australia and finally, hopefully, travel to Japan to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. None of these things came to complete fulfillment.

In March, the NCAA softball season was canceled and the 2020 Olympics were pushed back one year due to the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the postponement of the Olympic Games, the opportunity to try out for her home country’s team would elude Plain in 2020.

Washington finished the season with a 23-2 record and ranked second or third nationally in all of the major polls, while Plain finished the shortened season with a 10-2 record and 2.76 ERA with an average of nearly 10 strikeouts per seven innings pitched.

No matter what 2021 throws at her, Plain is ready to attack all obstacles with a smile on her face. Her previous goals remain the same—to compete with Washington this season, earn her way onto the Australian Olympic Team and take the field at the Olympics in Tokyo over the summer.

“That’s one of the reasons why I came back to Washington, not only to do schooling but to play with my teammates. I just want to keep learning and to keep having fun,” Plain says. “I tend to perform the best when I am having fun.

“As far as team goals, being in the moment together (is a goal). When everyone has the same goal, the same mentality, it’s just that much easier for everyone to succeed.”

Preparing to play for two teams on two different stages at one time is no easy task. Plain has had to place active communication at the forefront of her agenda.

“It is difficult being so far away from my Australian teammates,” she adds. “I have to make sure that I’m communicating with the coaches back home as well as the coaches here to make sure that I’m doing everything that I need to do to make the (Olympic) team in their eyes.”

Plain added that she has felt an outpouring of support from both of her respective coaching staffs and that communication with her Australian teammates through social media platforms like Snapchat has made the long-distance relationship a little easier. During this busy time in her life, Plain looks to one veteran Aussie teammate in particular for guidance.

“Kaia Parnaby. She’s been a member of the Australian team for a very long time and she’s also played in the States as well,” Plain says. “She’s been in a whole bunch of those tough situations against those top teams for an exceptional amount of time. She has a lot of softball experience behind her and also just a lot of general experience in life as well.”

Plain believes that learning from seasoned players like Parnaby, while also relying on her own significant experiences—like getting the nod in game one of the national championship series as a true freshman—can help her succeed no matter what opponent steps into the batter’s box.

“At this stage, everyone is just so good, Division 1, Division 2, everyone,” Plain said. “Almost every team you come up against has the opportunity to beat you. At some point, you’ve got to just trust what you’ve got and keep working with that.”

Fans can catch a glimpse of Plain and her Huskies when the 2021 NCAA softball season begins next month.

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