THE Country Cricket NSW Girls Under 19s Championships may have ended without a win for Western but the young side never backed down against their experienced opponents in Canberra.
Western showed improvement across all four games over Wednesday and Thursday, giving it everything they had during the third place play-off as they went down in a seven wicket loss to Riverina.
Head coach of the Western NSW Female Cricket Academy, Andrew Litchfield, said the Western girls should keep their heads high.
"The effort level was what you'd expect, and the under 19s improved with every game. We were probably just a couple of quality players short," he said.
"The girls showed plenty of intent and always tried hard, and they got close in a few of their matches.
"We had seven of the under 16s in the team and we're probably a bit low on numbers in that 19s group. The 16s and also our 13s have a lot of quality players coming through.
"Things look bright for our Western female program over the next few years."
It was a tough road throughout the competition for the developing Western 19s side.
They were on the receiving end of a 131-run opening stand from ACT Southern Districts duo Clare Levings (59 not out) and Caitlin Galeano (52) during Wednesday's opening game.
Western mustered up 6-68 in their pursuit of ACT's 1-143, with Ella Tilburg (22) and Amy Kreuzberger (21) faring best with the bat.
Things look bright for our Western female program over the next few years.Andrew Litchfield
In their second game Western couldn't break another big partnership, leading to Riverina scoring 5-132, though Chloe Stapleton's 2-9 from three overs was a highlight.
Western improved with the bat - led by Caitlin Keen (24), Stapleton (23) and Kreuzberger (18) - but were short of the mark with 7-96.
The last pool game against Greater Illawarra saw Western come closest to victory as they finished 19 runs adrift of the 3-108 target when their allotted overs were up.
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Earlier in the week Western claimed the spoils in the under 16s tournament, ending their eight year search for a title in the younger age division.
Western claimed a satisfying revenge win over Riverina in the grand final after the result went the other way during the pool stages.
Litchfield said the finale was a great showcase of cricketing skills.
"The teams are pretty evenly matched and we probably let ourselves down in the field a bit in the first game against them," he said.
"But that final, well, I've been around junior women's cricket for a while now and that was one of the highest quality under 16s finals I've seen for a while now.
"It was low scoring but full of fabulous bowling that put a lot of pressure on the batters. Fortunately we snuck home chasing a small total.
Litchfield said the prevalence of Central West talent in the Women's Big Bash League can be a catalyst for driving up interest in the game.
"There's Emma Hughes from Dubbo, Lisa Griffith from Bathurst and Phoebe Litchfield from Orange and I know when they're back home they get down to the local nets to catch up with kids," he said.
"Having those individuals making their mark at a state and national level is great for country girls cricket."