White Sox off to a flying start at world champs
Power hitter Katrina Nukunuku drove in two runs as the New Zealand White Sox opened the world women's softball championships with a 5-1 win over Russia.
The Kiwis mustered 12 safe hits at Haarlem, near Amsterdam this morning with Nukunuku, batting in the number four cleanup spot, and young top order batters Ellie Cooper and Danica Ferriso each collecting two hits.
New Zealand started well in the top of the first inning with Ferriso, the young Hutt Valley infielder, slamming a two-base hit before Nukunuku drove her in for a 1-0 lead.
Captain Lara Andrews, fresh from a season in the United States Pro League, batted in Canterbury shortstop
Mikayla Werahiko in the top of the third and Cooper also scampered home on a subsequent throwing error.
Nukunuku stepped up to score Andrews, who had stolen third base, for a 4-0 lead.
The White Sox added another run in the fourth inning on a two-down play.
First baseman Rebecca Bromhead led off with a single but the Russians pulled off a double play to dismiss pinch runner Cassie Siataga and batter Werahiko.
But the Kiwi top order delivered in the clutch.
Cooper, a scholarship player at Florida State University - where former Black Sox men's softball great Travis Wilson is on the coaching staff - smashed a double down the rightfield line and scored on Ferriso's up-the-middle single.
Russia grabbed a consolation run in the bottom of the fourth after a walk, a single and a wild pitch.
New Zealand's starting pitcher Megan Farrell took six strikeouts and gave up four safe hits. Reliever Jennifer Feret had four strikeouts for three hits.Cooper and Ferriso had two hits from three at-bats and Nukunuku two from four, including two RBIs (runs batted in).
Andrews, Werahiko, Feret, Bromhead, relief catcher Mel Gettins and outfielder Te Reo Powhiri Matautia also got hits.
New Zealand should be favoured to beat Cuba tomorrow.
The Cubans lost 6-3 to the Czech Republic today.
In other opening round games, 2012 bronze medallists Australia edged out Chinese Taipei 2-1, defending champions Japan beat China 4-0, Italy had a 3-2 win over the Dominican Republic, Canada prevailed over Puerto Rico 3-2 and Botswana toppled Great Britain 5-3.
The world championships are being held in Europe for the first time.