It's not always about the wins or personal statistics.
For Kelly Korras, a former Glendale Community College pitcher and current Westridge School softball coach, her international softball debut this summer was all about the experience.
"It was a dream come true," said Korras of competing in the International Softball Federation's (ISF) 13th Women's World Fastpitch Championship, which is held once every two years, with South Africa. "I have always wanted to be able to compete at that level and I finally got to. I learned a lot from watching the other teams and playing against them."
The 24-year old Northridge resident was invited to become a member of the South African team for the tournament, which took place in Canada and ended July 22, in May after a brief tryout where she sent the coaches, who first saw her skills when she worked out with her younger sister Amber Korras at tryouts for the junior national team, video of her pitching and hitting.
Once Korras, who was born and lived in South Africa until she was 5, learned she'd be lacing up her cleats once again — after a year off from playing softball — she began a training regimen, but nothing could have prepared her for the level of competition she was set to face.
South Africa placed 15th out of 16 teams after being outscored 63-9 in the tournament and didn't advance out of pool play after it posted a 1-6 record in the tournament's opening round. Its lone victory came against Puerto Rico, 6-5, on July 18.
Korras, who was named the Western State Conference's Pitcher of the Year with the Vaqueros in 2008, made four appearances and two starts in the circle for South Africa and finished with an 18.20 earned-run average through five innings.
"It is definitely something I would never take back," Korras said. "It didn't always go our way on the field, but off the field I made some amazing friends and had an experience I wouldn't trade for anything in the world."
Korras got the start against the United States — which fell to Japan, 2-1, in the ISF Women's World Championship July 22 in 10 innings — when it faced South Africa on July 16. While she only lasted 1 1/3 innings against a U.S. squad stacked with NCAA Division I talent,, it's a memory she'll never forget.
"The thing I will remember most is probably getting the start against the USA team," Korras said. "I had watched all those girls on TV for so many years and to hear them call my name for the start [over the speaker] was definitely the best experience."
While Korras' international debut may not have played out as she would've liked, she hopes to return to the ISF Women's World Championship with South Africa in 2014 better prepared to achieve the results she wants.
"I knew what to expect, but it was a little late to start my training," Korras said. "I think for 2014 I have a better plan of what I need to work on."