Western Storm has confirmed eight signings for 2023 onwards, including that of Welsh left-arm spinner Sophia Smale.
It's Smale’s maiden professional contract and she joins fellow Wales star Alex Griffiths in the Western Storm set-up after the seamer also committed to the region for another season.
Newport-based Sophia enjoyed an outstanding debut season, playing a key role in the Western Storm side with her left-arm spin but also making a number of valuable contributions with the bat, averaging 44 in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
In what was an incredible breakthrough season for the 17-year-old, she finished as the leading wicket-taker for the tournament-winning Oval Invincibles in The Hundred and claimed the wickets of some of the biggest names in women’s cricket.
To top off a stellar year, Sophia was recently named in the England Under 19 World Cup Squad that will travel to South Africa in January. She will embark on her professional cricket career alongside studying for her A-Levels at Monmouth School for Girls.
After putting pen to paper on her first pro contract, Sophia said: “I’m delighted to have signed my first professional contract at Western Storm.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play professional cricket and I can’t believe I now have this opportunity. We have a great group of girls here at Storm and I hope that we can continue to do Wales and the West Country proud.”
Head Coach, Trevor Griffin added: “I’m really excited about this group of players. We have a great blend of youth and experience, and all the players richly deserve their opportunity.
“We want Western Storm to be pushing for silverware, and a big winter lies ahead with the squad to ensure we are ready to challenge in the summer.”
The player signings follow on from an announcement earlier this month where it was confirmed that, as part of a £3.5m funding increase for professional women’s domestic cricket in England, all eight regions will have 10 ECB-funded professional players by February 1st, 2023.
Western Storm have accelerated the start of the eighth professional contract to maximise training opportunities throughout the winter and have two ECB-Funded contracts to award later in the year.