Two St. Mike’s students on the Irish Women’s National Softball Team

April 17, 2024
Izzy Quam '25

The Saint Michael’s softball team has two players who not only play for St. Mike’s, but they also play for Ireland as well. Kiera Parker ’25 plays for the Irish U22 team and Jenna Devens ’25 plays for both the Irish U22 and the Irish Women’s National Team.

Jenna Devens ’25 (left) and Kiera Parker ’25 (middle) (Courtesy photo)

Devens said softball is not as popular in Ireland as it is in the United States.

“Ironically, we hosted the Women’s Softball World Cup Group A last summer and had to build a field out of a turf soccer, rugby pitch. The organization was able to pull it off and host the event, but building a softball field was a very tough operation,” Devens said.

Devens said Fastpitch Ireland, “both the representative organization for players and the administrative authority of the sport of Fastpitch in Ireland (Fastpitch Ireland),” did not begin until 2014. It is a non-profit organization that has no paid employees and relies on volunteers.

Kiera Parker ’25 (Courtesy photo)

Devens and Parker got involved with the team in December 2020. Both players, who are of Irish descent on their mother’s side, were researching teams to play for and reached out— separately, but coincidentally around the same time— to the head coach, Melanie Cunningham. Cunningham turned out to be holding a tryout in Florida and invited them to attend.

“A handful of girls tried out and [Cunningham] explained that there is a U22 team and a women’s national team and the U22 team was what she was primarily recruiting for,” Parker explained. Parker and Devens both tried out the entire week and were selected.

Parker and Devens both were a part of the U22 Irish team that played in the European Championship in the Czech Republic in 2022. Parker said that the orientation day was one of the coolest experiences she has had.

“There was a huge stadium and lots of fans and each country formed lines of two going down,” Parker said. “I just happened to be one of the first two people, so my friend and I carried our flag with our team behind us. Each team did the same thing…Italy was to our left, Germany was to our right, and Austria was behind us.”

Jenna Devens ’25 (Courtesy photo)

Their team placed seventh in the tournament, overall.

“Getting to represent an entire country in some of the largest sporting events is such an honor and words cannot describe how grateful I am to have this opportunity,” Devens said. “Playing for a country, rather than just a school or a town, you play with and feel the support of the entire country.”

This summer, Devens will be representing the U22 Irish team in the U22 European Softball Women’s Championships from August 5 to 10 in Kutno, Poland. The Women’s National Team is also competing in the Women’s European Championships in September in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Devens has been offered a spot for that tournament but hasn’t decided if she will attend.

While softball is not the most popular sport in Ireland, it is growing. Fastpitch Ireland has had to rebuild since the COVID pandemic, Devens explained. Parker said the amount of talent— even just at the training camps— has increased.

“Since the rebuilding of the program,” Devens said. “Our U18 team has been able to win the Bronze medal at last year’s European Championships and we have been able to safely rank ourselves within the top 10 countries in Europe.”

Jenna Devens ’25 (Courtesy photo)

Jenna Devens ’25 (Courtesy photo)

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