Sophie Luff is a warrior, says Western Storm head coach Mark O’Leary

Sophie Luff in action for Western Storm. © Getty Images

After Western Storm suffered a 32-run loss to Southern Vipers, thus crashing out of contention for a spot in the final of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy, head coach Mark O’Leary said the batters had left themselves too much to do at the back end of the innings.

Having got off to a poor start in their chase of 288 – reduced to 60 for 3 – skipper Sophie Luff (79) and wicket-keeper Natasha Wraith (68) resurrected the innings with a 139-run stand for the fourth wicket. However, despite the pair’s valiant half-centuries, the constantly climbing required run rate was too much for the lower-order to keep up with.

Reflecting on the team’s loss, O’Leary pointed to the poor starts with both bat and ball that contributed their inability to get over the line.

“Yeah, I think we did [leave ourselves too much to do]. Obviously at the start, a few extras were given away with the ball. But we need to get off to better starts with the bat, if I am being honest with you.”

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“To be fair, the girls have done really well getting close to the target at the end,” he said.

O’Leary showered praise on Storm skipper Luff, who registered her fourth consecutive fifty-plus score in the tournament. Her 88-ball knock against Vipers, took her tally to 336, only 43-runs behind top run-getter Georgia Adams.

“You probably don’t know this, but she’s been injured; but she just gives her heart and soul and never gives in,” he said. “She’s a warrior – she’s Western Storm through and through.”

“It just shows that she’s adapting to the longer format of the game well, she’s batting time and she’s getting big scores.”

With their final game of the season to be played against Sunrisers in Bristol on Saturday (September 19), O’Leary said the team were looking forward to signing off on a high. He praised the group for coming together at such short notice and putting in some splendid performances through the course of the tournament.

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“We’ll certainly be looking to win our last game and put our feet up for a few weeks because the girls have been fantastic over the last while.”

The head coach added that he was excited about the young talent that has emerged through the course of the season, and singled out young Emma Corney as one for the future.

“We just had our team talk and there we mentioned how on numerous occasions they (young players) throw themselves around, and how well they bowled… Especially Emma (Corney). It’s really exciting to see these young girls coming through. Hopefully in years to come they will be doing what Sophie Luff does for Western Storm,” he concluded.