White Sox slump to second world champs defeat
The New Zealand White Sox have slumped to a second defeat - a rain-disrupted 8-1 loss to Canada - at the world women's softball championships.
Naomi Shaw's Kiwis could not contain the booming bats of the Canadians, who finished the game in five innings after amassing 12 safe hits at Haarlem, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands this morning.
In contrast, the Kiwis only managed two hits, to top order batters Danica Ferriso and Ellie Cooper, in the top of the fifth inning.
Play started 40 minutes late, but the White Sox began brightly with a run in the top of the first inning - without picking up a safe hit.
Cooper drew a walk, and so did captain Lara Andrews after facing 10 pitches, both before and after another rain delay.
Middle order batters Katrina Nukunuku and Kyla Bromhead were hit by pitches, allowing Cooper to score from third base.
But the White Sox's lead proved shortlived.
Canada - the tournament fourth seed - struck back with four runs in the bottom of the first inning with Jennifer Yee and Kaleigh Rafter producing back-to-back singles before Jennifer Gilbert batted a two-RBI triple over rightfield.
That prompted Shaw and pitching coach Debbie Mygind to yank experienced starting pitcher Megan Farrell with reliever Tyneesha Houkaumu conceding a further run.
Canada took a 5-1 lead in the second inning after Cooper dropped the ball at first base for what would have been the third out.
Shaw started a young team, including an all-teenage infield. The average age - 22 - of the starting lineup was only boosted by starting pitcher Farrell (30) and catcher Bromhead (29). But it was further reduced when Tyneesha Houkaumu, 19, replaced Farrell in the first inning before later making way for Courtney Gettins, 17, to make her world championships debut.
Gettins endured a baptism of fire. Her first-up opponent was Canada's best hitter, Rafter, who doubled to leftfield.
The Canadians produced some power batting to get three further runs across the bat after a double by catcher Natalie Wideman. But Gettins showed a steely nerve by getting the final batter to fly out to centrefield with bases loaded.
Rafter went three from three for Canada at the plate for a perfect 1.000 batting average and second baseman Yee had two hits from three.
The White Sox showed some fight in the fifth with Ferriso and Cooper swatting back-to-back singles to centrefield to break Canadian pitcher Sara Groenewegen's no-hitter. But they were left stranded on the corners when Groenewegen struck out Nukunuku for the final out.
Ferriso picked up her fifth safe hit of the tournament. The 19-year-old Hutt Valley infielder leads the White Sox averages with five hits from eight at-bats for a highly respectable, .625 tournament average.
Farrell gave up three hits to five batters, Houkaumu conceded four hits in 2.2 innnings and Canada took their last five hits off Gettins.
The White Sox now have one win and two losses and have scored six runs and conceded 10.
They were unlikely to beat world and Olympic champions Japan tomorrow and would need to win their final three games against the Czech Republic, China and Puerto Rico to advance to the top-eight.
New Zealand's game against the Czechs on Wednesday would be particularly pivotal after the Czechs' 2-0 win over China today.
Day 3 results: Pool A: Cuba 5 Russia 3, Japan 9 Puerto Rico 2 (6 innings), Czech Republic 2 China 0, Canada 8 New Zealand 1 (5 innings).
Pool B: Dominican Republic 11 Botswana 1 (4 innings), Australia 9 Great Britain 0 (5 innings), Netherlands 8 Italy 1 (5 innings), USA 5 Chinese Taipei 1.
Pool A: Canada, Japan 3 wins-3 games, Cuba, Czech Republic 2-3, China, New Zealand 1-3, Puerto Rico, Russia 0-3.
Pool B: Australian, USA 3 wins-3 games, Dominican Republic 2-3, Botswana, Chinese-Taipei, Italy, Netherlands 1-3, Great Britain 0-3.