NZ White Sox head to Prague for tournament
The White Sox are hoping a tournament in Prague will prepare them for a tilt at the top-eight at this month's women's softball world championships.
Naomi Shaw's New Zealand team leaves today for the Czech Republic prior to heading to Haarlem, near Amsterdam for the first world championship tournament held in Europe.
They will face a strong Czech national team and an all-star squad in Prague.
"We are extremely grateful for the opportunity given to us by the Czech Softball Association to play games so we can build a team culture,'' Shaw said.
''Some of our players come from the US and Australia so it isn't always possible to travel as a team as much as we would.''
New Zealand won the world championships in 1982 in Taiwan when Shaw was captain. They last won a medal (silver) at the 1990 tournament in the United States.
Since then, their highest placing was sixth (1994). They were 12th in Venezuela in 2010 and 13th in Canada in 2012, Shaw's first campaign as head coach.
Japan are the defending champions in Haarlem, Australia, United States and Canada are all rated highly in women's softball and have the international programmes to prove their favouritism, but the White Sox are happy to stay under the radar and quietly aim for the playoffs first before proclaiming lofty goals.
"Our goal is to finish in the top eight teams after the round robin play,'' Shaw said. ''Our aim is to finish higher but we need to focus on one step at a time to achieve our goal.
"We have worked on a focused development programme since 2010. This has included annual entry in the Softball Australia National League competition.
"In 2014 we feel we have far greater depth of players to call on and the strongest team we have had for many years."
The White Sox, captained by Lara Andrews are in a group containing, Cuba, Japan, Russia, Czech Republic, Canada, China, Puerto Rico.
Shaw and assistant-coach Debbie Mygind were both members of the 1982 White Sox team which won the world championship title, the only time New Zealand has succeeded at the women's world champs.
The White Sox squad is: Lara Andrews (USA, formerly Hutt Valley), Kyla Bromhead (Auckland), Rebecca Bromhead (Auckland), Ellie Cooper (USA), Megan Farrell (Auckland), Jennifer Feret (Auckland), Danica Ferriso (Hutt Valley), Courtney Gettins (Hawkes Bay), Melanie Gettins (Hawkes Bay), Tyneesha Houkamau (USA?Auckland), Te Reo Powhiri Matautia (USA/Auckland), Katrina Nukunuku (Auckland), Cassie Siataga (Canterbury), Beth Stavert (Auckland), Michal Tangaroa (Auckland), Stacey Webber (Australia), Mikayla Werahiko (Canterbury)Head coach: Naomi Shaw. Assistant-coaches: Debbie Mygind, Israel Nukunuku.
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