From a housing commission home in Claymore to a spot in the international softball hall of fame – Melanie Roche has had an impressive career.
The four-time Olympian was recently inducted into the World Baseball Softball Confederation Hall of Fame alongside teammate Natalie Ward.
The induction is the highest honour a softballer can receive.
She has also been inducted in the Oklahoma State University Hall of Fame and the Australian Softball Hall of Fame.
Roche said she was proud to have her name among the greats of the sport – many of them her friends and teammates.
“It’s a great acknowledgement of my career,” she said.
“I’ve played softball since I was 13 and I retired seven years ago at 40.
“I feel like I took my career as far as I could go and this has capped it off.
“It’s a complete feeling.
“There are only 200 or so people in that Hall of Fame, in the history of world softball, and I’m one of them. It’s a pretty special thing.”
Roche is grateful for everything the sport has allowed her to experience and accomplish.
The pitcher left Australia as a teenager to play college softball with the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.
She said the pace and workload in America was hugely different to playing in the Australian squad.
“I was just 19, coming from Claymore and seeing America for the first time,” she said.
“It was incredible. There was no time for being anything but your best.
“There’s a lot of tough love in college softball.
“In college you play a lot of games, up to 60 in a season, which is just February to May.
“With the Aussies you play maybe 20 games a year.”
Roche said playing with Australia was far more about preparation and making sure you’re ready to give it 100 per cent when game time rolled around.
Her skill and dedication saw Roche take home three bronze medals and one silver medal from her four Olympic appearances, in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing.
Her biggest regret, however, is that she’s missing one medal in her set.
“The one thing I most wish I’d achieved was a gold medal at the Olympics,” she said.
“There must’ve just been something that we didn’t do quite right that meant we weren’t at gold level.”
Roche said the complexity and challenge of the sport is what has kept her involved in softball all these years and she still doesn’t feel like she’s knows all there is to know.
She is currently working as a pitching coach in Japan and lives in Brisbane when she returns to Australia.