World champions Japan thrash the White Sox
The White Sox have been thrashed 9-0 by champions Japan today, but their women's softball world championship playoff hopes are still alive.
New Zealand's pitching had no answer to the blazing bats of the Japanese in another five-inning game at Haarlem, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The White Sox now have just one win from four games, but could still qualify for the top-eight if they beat the Czech Republic tomorrow, China on Thursday and winless Puerto Rico on Friday.
Russia did the Kiwis a massive favour by upsetting the Czechs 3-0 this morning.
That meant tomorrow's New Zealand-Czech Republic game was make or break for the Kiwis.
Japan and Australia were unbeaten in pool A and were assured of taking two of the qualification spots. That would leave Cuba (2 wins from 3), the Czechs (2 from 4), China (1-3) and New Zealand (1-4) scrapping over the other two slots.
Japan rested star pitcher Yukiko Ueno and top hitters Eri Yamada and Misato Kawano against the White Sox.
But they still leapt out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning despite the White Sox dismissing the first two batters. They steadily accumulated runs throughout the game off Kiwi pitchers Megan Farrell, Michal Tangaroa and Jennifer Feret.
Rebecca Bromhead got the Kiwis' first hit in the second inning with a single to rightfield before the players scurried off the diamond after a heavy shower. Play did not resume for another 90 minutes with Japan closing out the game after another three innings at bat.
Today's programme was again blighted by rain with the New Zealand-Japan game getting underway almost six hours after it was originally scheduled.