Like mother like daughter, this dynasty a Shaw thing

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2012
Denva Shaw-Tait
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

DENVA SHOW-TAIT: "It was scary at first, but I think I play better in prems than my real team. I just like the atmosphere,’’ says the 13-year-old pitcher for Saints."

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When Kiri Shaw called time on her 23-year international career in September, she assumed the days of mother-daughter stories were done.

Like mum Naomi, Kiri Shaw is a Hutt Valley softball legend. Both White Sox players, Naomi has also been national coach for the past two years and the Shaw name is synonymous with the Saints club.

Interest in the pair was always high, given their status and outstanding contribution to the sport. Even if others' fascination has sometimes worn thin on Kiri.

But with the next generation of the dynasty - her 13-year-old daughter Denva Shaw-Tait - now playing in premier one for Saints, the Shaw story has some legs in it yet.

Kiri coaches the Saints team and summoned her daughter up from the club's under-15 team, having first called upon her services at last year's senior club nationals. It's a big jump for any youngster but then Kiri Shaw was about the same age when she began playing in the premier grade.

"You can tell when someone's got the capability to play at a certain level so, skill-wise, she's fine," the 39-year-old Shaw said earlier this week.

"I've never really been nervous for her and, because she's always played up [above her age level], I expect her to go out and show lots of confidence. But then sometimes I have to remember she's only 12."

Thirteen today, actually.

The most remarkable thing is that Denva, who is in her last year at Naenae Intermediate, isn't just hiding out in left field or coming into games as an occasional pinch-hitter. She's actually Saints' starting pitcher a lot of the time, or else pitching in a relief capacity in the final innings.

Denva said she would much rather be playing short-stop or second base but mum's not having a bar of it.

"She's a damned good pitcher and she puts it exactly where she wants it and she goes out there and does it with a smile on her face," she said.

Denva isn't rapid but with mum catching and generally calling pitches to the outside of the plate, she forgets about the batter and focuses on the target.

"It was scary at first but I think I play better in prems than my real team. I just like the atmosphere," Denva said. "With my mum being the coach, there is pressure. But I enjoy playing prems."

Although she remains a reluctant pitcher.

"It's not that I don't enjoy it, it just gets a bit boring because I always have to do it. But I am enjoying it more this year than last year."

Kiri Shaw made her White Sox debut as a 16-year-old and Denva is showing similar ability. If she does end up following in her grandmother and mother's footsteps, it won't be down to genes, apparently.

"No, it's not even about a softball ability," Kiri said."I think if kids grow up with a ball, regardless of what it is, they're going to pick up that hand-eye co-ordination."

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- Wellington

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