A NICKLES’ WEIGHT IN SOFTBALL GOLD

A NICKLES’ WEIGHT IN SOFTBALL GOLD

📅07 September 2015
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(photo courtesy of Madilyn Nickles via Merced Sun-Star)

By Robert Balajadia

Guam’s crowning summer achievements were undoubtedly the four gold medals won in the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moseby, Papua New Guinea, but those weren’t the only gold medals the island could enjoy being a part of.

The other gold came courtesy of USA Junior Nationals softball star Madilyn ‘Bubba’ Nickles, who played a big part in the USA Junior Nationals team winning the 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship in Oklahom City, Oklahoma, the softball capital of the world.

The Championship ran from August 9-15 earlier this summer.

GSPN featured Nickles and her Chamorro background earlier this year and how she was preparing for the XI WBSC Championships. Since then, her summer was full of plane rides, road trips, and training that opened up new levels of what it felt like to be an independent athlete.

Team USA steamrolled every team all tourney long going a perfect 10-0, eventually beating the 2013 Junior World Champions winner Japan 8-1 in the finals.

“It’s the little things that I’ll remember most and miss the most, like just being in the dugout or communicating with some of the best young softball players in the world,” said Nickles on her experience.

Bubba’s Big At Bat

Nickles goes by the nickname ‘Bubba’, courtesy of her dad Ted Nickles. During her younger years of softball, Nickles had run into one-too-many ‘Madi’s’ making it a nuisance to try and call her out of a crowd. In search of originality, dad dug deep into his bag of southern nicknames thus, Madilyn ‘Bubba’ Nickles was born.

“It has become a part of me and I love it,” said Nickles on the nickname. “I can imagine the other team hearing the name ‘Bubba’ and they picture a really big, masculine girl, but then out comes me, this tiny girl.”

Despite being the youngest on the USA Jr. Nationals roster, Bubba’s presence was felt in USA’s game against Australia, their third game of the World Championships. The game went into the 6th inning tied at 1-1 with the team in a rut offensively. USA was able to get the bases loaded with two away with Nickles coming up to bat.

“The nerves were beginning to settle in really bad and I was really nervous approaching the plate. Then, I took a deep breath and told myself not to overthink it,” said Nickles.

Bubba then smacked a triple, allowing all three of her teammates to race home safely to go up 4-1 with her team going banana’s in the dugout. Ball game. USA defeated Australia 6-1 thanks to Nickles’ bravado.

“That has to be my most memorable play over summer. To have the team going wild after the play had given me a lot of confidence, especially also knowing that the team had a lot of confidence in me,” admitted Nickles.

Madilyn was featured as #TheBestPlayInOKC during her amazing triple against Australia. (courtesy photo)

Madilyn was featured as #TheBestPlayInOKC during her amazing triple against Australia. (courtesy photo)

Back To Reality

Nickles’ experience of a lifetime ended on a high note, which makes going back to high school a tough emotional transition.

“I’m a little nervous, transitioning from USA softball back to high school, but it’s not always expected to be always that competitive. I’m going to go into the high school season with the same level of confidence and I really want to show my teammates everything I’ve learned,” said Nickles.

Madi 'Bubba' Nickles poses on field with her gold medal and trophy. (courtesy photo)

Madi ‘Bubba’ Nickles poses on field with her gold medal and 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship trophy. (courtesy photo)

The 17-year-old is currently in her senior year of high school at Merced High School and college is right around the corner, so learning how to rely on herself was a much needed experience for the future star.

“The biggest thing I learned this summer was maturity. I’m so used to my parents coming to support and watch my every game and it was a very different experience for all of us. I still talked to them a lot and we got to understand that it was a good opportunity to be on my own.”

Madilyn’s parents Ted and Natalie Nickles were never too far behind, tracking their daughters progress while posting on social media for everyone to witness Mady’s progress.

Merced’s softball team is more than happy to welcome back Nickles for her senior year, and so are her teammates, who don’t give the USA star any kind of special treatment.

“I haven’t changed my personality and my teammates all treat me the same, like goofing around. They respect me as a good ball player, but they don’t treat me like a superstar. If anything, I learned how to better organization skills and realized just how crucial it is to have good time management,” said Nickles

Her Merced High teammates instead try to imitate their team captain Nickles’ game, which she encourages if it will help them become better overall players.

Guam Bound

Madilyn herself has never been to the island, but her parents and grandparents always tell her that they see a lot of the Chamorro Islander in her personality. She loves the beach and can’t wait to visit Guam for the first time.

“My parents always joke around that I’m more Chamorro than I am white,” laughed Nickles. “I’ve only been able to see pictures of my relatives and how beautiful the island looks and I can’t wait to get out there and experience it for myself.”

The Nickles family is planning on visiting Guam in the summer of 2016 before Madilyn ventures off to college, where she has already whole-heartedly committed to become a Bruin at UCLA.

With all the traveling ‘Bubba’ did over the summer, her 16-hour flight to Guam should be a cinch.

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Madilyn Nickles huddles around the USA flag with her gold-medal-winning teammates. (courtesy photo)

Madilyn Nickles huddles around the USA flag with her gold-medal-winning teammates. (courtesy photo)

Team USA celebrating after taking home the title in the 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship. (courtesy photo)

Team USA celebrating after taking home the title in the 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship. (courtesy photo)

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Madilyn Nickles at bat during the 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship. (courtesy photo)

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Madilyn poses with a member from Japan’s team during the 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship. (courtesy photo)

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Madi Nickles celebrates while making her way home for a run in the 2015 XI WBSC Junior Womens World Championship. (courtesy photo)

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