She is the first South Australian to play with the Emeralds at the Women’s Baseball World Cup. But before Carly Moore heads overseas to play ball, she shares how she travelled the sometimes lonely but rewarding road to becoming a professional female athlete.
Baseballer Carly Moore is knocking it out of the park
There’s a photo from 2001 of Carly Moore, arguably South Australia’s highest-ranking female baseballer, at her first-ever game of tee-ball, baseball’s younger sibling. With her tongue out, and in a bit of a blur, she smashes the ball sitting atop a yellow tee.
In another photo from the game, the six-year-old has long brown pigtails draped over her shoulders. She’s wearing a t-shirt and hat emblazoned with “West Lakes Teeball Club”. In the image, she and her six teammates are lined up in two neat rows. Carly is the only girl.
This trend of being the only female on a mixed sports team has followed Carly throughout her professional athletic career. But she hasn’t let this isolating experience slow her down. In fact, Carly, who bats an enviable .500 and controls the game as a catcher, is killing it at top-tier South Australian baseball while showing other girls how to follow.
“I’m one of the first South Australians – sorry, I am the first South Australian woman to make the World Cup Roster,” she tells CityMag.
“It’s definitely a powerful feeling.”
Carly is one of two catchers travelling to Thunder Bay, Canada, on Sunday with Australia’s national baseball team. The team will compete in the qualifying round of the Women’s Baseball World Cup and if the Emeralds win, they will make it to the final round of the competition, expected to kick off in late 2024.
The national team comprises the best baseballers from around the country, with Carly being the first South Australian woman to make the cut.
Carly, also a University of Adelaide geology graduate, is an expert leader and athlete. She was the recipient of the 2023 South Australian Women’s League Best & Fairest medal, guided Woodville to a maiden title last year, and recently captained the Adelaide Giants to bronze.
We speak to Carly after a four-hour baseball practice. On the pitch, with cameras placed front and behind, she and her coach analysed the captured footage to perfect one skill: catching.
“It sounds ridiculous just working on catching the ball,” she says, “but I really like that skill refinement.”
Carly comes from strong baseball stock. Her dad Lawrie Moore and her brother Wade are both involved in the league as coaches and players. “They’re really supportive, but it’s always a joke, like I’m the better Moore,” Carly says, laughing.
Lawrie says he is “absolutely proud” of his daughter’s achievements in baseball.
“In the past three years, her commitment to the sport and her training has stepped her in the right direction to achieve her goals,” he says.
“Some strong guidance from coaches has helped her in this journey.”
But her journey towards on-field success hasn’t been totally linear.
Carly first got into tee-ball, graduated to softball and then moved into baseball. But when she was around 15 she stopped playing altogether. At that time, Carly was one of two females on the mixed under-17 baseball team. She felt “overpowered and out-competed”.
“The boys had hit puberty so they got a bit bigger, a bit stronger, and I was behind so I gave baseball away for a bit,” she says. Playing on a mostly-male team was an intimidating experience, too.
“It really makes you stick out. Sometimes you feel like if you make a mistake, it’s not because you just made a mistake. It’s like, ‘Oh, you made a mistake because you’re a girl’,” Carly says.
According to the Adelaide Giants’ website, professional baseball in South Australia started in 1989. But women were only invited to the plate roughly seven years ago. Carly’s dad Lawrie says he and another local baseball legend Landon Hernandez saw an opening to establish an informal league for women at West Beach in 2016.
“There was a reasonable amount of interest with four inaugural teams that played on Friday nights,” he says.
“This grew to six teams in its third year and 10 the following.
“This growth has enhanced our performance at the open women’s national championships where SA has won two bronze medals (2019 and 2023). This created a true pathway and something for young athletes to strive for.”
Now the women’s league has been formalised and is busting at the seams, with three divisions boasting six to 12 teams in each category.
“It’s been huge growth,” Carly beams.
But there are problems. As in all sports, “entrenched sexism” exists.
Prizemoney and television coverage and even which public personalities deem it important to watch are significantly weighted towards male athletes, too. This affects how much sportswomen can squeeze out of a career, of which Carly is painfully aware.
Despite being at the top of her game, she can see the glass ceiling. Carly says sometime in the near future she will strike out of baseball for good. “I’ve been working on being a player for a long time, and I think I’m getting towards the end of that, which is a little bit sad, but also it’s pretty inevitable,” she says.
“This World Cup is basically as far as you can go for a female and I know I’m not going to make money from playing baseball, and I do obviously invest a lot of time into it, so I think it’s time for me now to go and have my career.”
Asked if she would pursue a baseball career instead of being a geologist, she answers: “For sure. But it would have to outweigh the financial possibility of my degree, which I don’t think will happen in the next 20 years.”
When pig-tailed Carly was coming up in the sport, she didn’t have any female baseball role models to look up to. The people she admired were general sportswomen. Although she now views herself as an “accidental” role model, she believes in the adage that you can’t be what you can’t see. When Carly enters the field, she is aware other girls are watching.
“I was just kind of going about my thing, doing what I really enjoyed doing and not really letting anyone else have a word about it,” she says, smiling.
“But there’s a lot of juniors at my club and other clubs, and it’s really cute when they say, ‘Hi Carly’.
“I love it because I didn’t have that.”