It's tough to comprehend just how big a moment Tasmania's softball national championships campaign will be for president Sheryl Burnie. Entering their first women's team in more than 20 years, in which she had a different role at the time, Burnie has overseen a brutal period for her beloved sport as they "struggled" to bring players in. But after years of regenerative work, Burnie has spearheaded the state's return to the national level with support from Queensland. "They had several players that didn't make it into the Queensland team, and they were interested in combining with Tassie and registering players down here," Burnie said. "We approached Softball Australia who gave us permission and hence, that's what we've done." The composite side will play as the Tasmanian Tigers to represent how the game "was almost extinct" and will fly to Canberra in early January where they'll face national and international-level competition. But they won't be there just to make up the numbers. "We've got some pretty impressive players, including an American pitcher, and two of our players are Australian Spirit girls," Burnie said. "We come with a couple of ex-national players who hadn't been picked up or who hadn't been selected by Queensland, so we'll give it a red-hot shot and other teams are starting to take notice." With selected players coming from Launceston, Hobart and the Sunshine State, there has been an extra effort made to ensure teammates are familiar with each other. "There's a contingency of Tasmanians who have gone up to Queensland to go through the same training rigor as down here and get used to everyone," Burnie said. One of those players who have been put through their paces up north is third-base Sophie Tatnell, who is due to head to Queensland for a second time for what she described as "harsh training". But Tatnell insisted she was more than happy to go through the hard yards. "It's not a solo sport, you actually have to play as a team, so team-bonding and understanding and being on the same page is so important," she said. "After training so hard all together, this group of core girls that are working together for nationals, we're bringing back the energy into our own clubs and showing that while we can still have fun, we can still be hardcore competitive players and show that we can actually do it and prove that we're right up there with the top." Alongside Burnie, Claudia Matteo will be returning to nationals after a 20-year hiatus as an official, and she described why it was such a thrill to be back. "Feeling the energy when you're actually in the dugouts with the team and you can see everyone playing out there and mixing in with all the other states, it's an awesome atmosphere. It just gives you tingles, really," she said. Alongside the trio, Northern talents Elizabeth Virieux and Belinda Hay will make the trip to the nation's capital and the side will be coached by Lachlan Thorburn.