A COMBINATION of nerves and excitement is how West Bendigo's Sophie O'Connell describes her first experience of division one in the Emu Valley Cricket Association.
At the age of just 14 Sophie lined up in the Redbacks' division one team against Axe Creek last round, answering the call after a late withdrawal from the side.
Sophie relished the experience - and so too did her father, Travis.
Travis is one of the stalwarts of both West Bendigo and the EVCA who can now lay claim to having played cricket in the same team as both his father, Tony, and now his daughter.
A 14-year-old girl playing division one is testament to the continuing evolution of the EVCA and of the growing strength of women's cricket in Bendigo given it was just under two years ago when the BDCA had its first female A grade player in Kangaroo Flat's Jasmine Nevins.
And Sophie wasn't just in the side to make up the numbers - she had a key role as wicket-keeper and ended the game with not only a dismissal with a catch low to the ground, but she also claimed a second innings wicket when she had the opportunity to send down four overs.
As well as playing in the same side as her dad, Sophie also got to play with her cousin Tarran Kilcullen, who is captain, and her uncle Brad Kilcullen.
"I was a little bit nervous before the game, but it was exciting to get the opportunity to play," Sophie said this week.
"When wicket-keeping the ball was obviously coming through a lot quicker than in the juniors, but it was also more predictable, so that helps make it a bit easier.
"I enjoyed myself... it was a good experience."
Sophie has been playing cricket since the age 11, starting in the under-14s with White Hills where she has been part of two under-14B premiership teams.
As well as her junior cricket with White Hills she has also played some senior cricket with West Bendigo's women's side, which is in recess this season.
"We have promoted women a lot at our club and a lot of credit has to go to the EVCA," Sophie's father, Travis, said.
"It was probably 10 or so years ago when the EVCA really put its foot down as far as stamping out some unsociable behaviour, such as sledging and personal comments and that has really made the league a lot more inclusive.
"It was only an hour or so before the game that Sophie got the call-up and both the BDCA and EVCA were fantastic at short notice in getting the registration process done through PlayHQ so she could play.
"I was fortunate that I got to play with my father Tony at Kennington matting many years ago and that has been one of my proudest cricketing moments.
"Now having the chance to play with my daughter is really special. I always thought I'd be a chance of doing it eventually, but probably when I was past division one and Sophie was a little bit older, so it came around a bit earlier."
EVCA round six games starting Saturday - Axe Creek v Mandurang, West Bendigo v California Gully, United v Spring Gully, Sedgwick v Marong. Emu Creek bye.
AXE CREEK - Benjamin RosS, Joel Bish, Connor Bulger, Christopher Cox, Ashley Dixon (c), Daniel Dixon, Blake Hodgskiss, Manish Singh Negi, Nathan Nikolic, Nicholas Ryan, Parminder Singh, Ranjit Singh.
CALIFORNIA GULLY - Damian Cupido, Tasman Fitzallen, Mark Hickman, Marcus McKern, Travis Nolan, Kai O'Hehir, Bradley Olson, Jakk Trenfield, Jesse Trenfield, Brad Webster, Aidan White.
MANDURANG - Phillip Berry, Dylan Achison, James Bailey, Damon Cathcart, Linton Colclough, Corey Dickins, Jeremy Hancock, Justin Laird, Mathew Pask, James Pietromonaco, Joel Renton-Keen, Beau Roy-Clements (c).
MARONG - Brennan Walters, Duane Anderson, Ashley Bayliss, David Blume, Reuben Cameron, James Falvey, Lachlan Frischke, Andrew Gladstone (c), Brodie Pearce, Amarpreet Singh, Mitch Van Poppel, Thomas Wilson.
SEDGWICK - Hunter Austin, Lucas Baldwin, Sam Brown, James Dempsey, Dustin Elliott, Mitch Hogan, Bailey Ilsley, Alec Robson, Caleb Robson, Jackson Stagg, Greg Thomas, Jordan Ilsley (c).
SPRING GULLY - Rhys Webb, Charlie Bellenger, Lachlan Brook, James Fox, Shaun Makepeace, Jesse Marciano, Shaun O'Shea (c), Ryan Pedrotti, Beauden Rinaldi, Nick Skeen (c), Alex Sutton, Noah Willits.
UNITED - Luke Price, Dylan Bailie, Mitch Blackman, Tom Calvert, Fraser Gentry, Joseph Hartney, Tyler James, Zachary Makeham, Ashley Mayo, Jayde Mullane, Harry Whittle, Mac Whittle (c).
WEST BENDIGO - Tristan Boykett, Andrew Brown, Sajith Edirisinghe, Gary Sing, Mitchell Harder, Brad Kilcullen, Tarran Kilcullen (c), Dylan Lefevre, Travis O'Connell, Marcus Williamson, Cody Wright.