Out-of-the-park homer seals White Sox win
Rebecca Bromhead's out-of-the-park home run has sparked the New Zealand White Sox to a 7-3 win over the Czech Republic to keep their women's world softball championship playoff hopes alive.
The 32-year-old Auckland first baseman smashed a pitch over the leftfield fence in the second inning at Haarlem, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands early this morning.
The marathon match finally ended after six hours following a three and a half hour break due to incessant rain.
The White Sox still needed to win their last two games, against China tonight and Puerto Rico, to be sure of making the top-four in Pool A and advancing to the top-eight for the first time since 2006.
They were in sixth place on runs differential in the eight-team pool with two wins and three losses. But China and the Czech Republic had the same win-loss record.
With their backs against the wall after three conseutive losses, Naomi Shaw's New Zealand team produced their best hitting display of the tournament against the Czechs.
The White Sox grabbed the game from the scruff of the neck at the outset, scoring three runs in the first inning off two hits and two Czech fielding errors.
Ellie Cooper got the first hit up the middle and helped advance Danica Ferriso, who scored when the Czech shortstop errored Lara Andrew's drive.
Katrina Nukunuku stepped up and singled to score Cooper and Andrews for a 3-0 lead.
But the Czechs struck back with two runs off two hits in the top of the second inning to reduce the White Sox's lead to 3-2.
The Bromhead blast gave New Zealand a two-run buffer in the bottom of the second and Mikayla Werahiko and Ferriso followed with safe hits to give the White Sox five hits from their first two innings' work.
The Kiwi bats kept rolling in the bottom of the third with Jennifer Feret launching a double into left-centrefield. Andrews picked a walk and Katrina Nukunuku singled to move Feret to third base before she came home on Kyla Bromhead's sacrifice fly-RBI for a 5-2 lead.
New Zealand made a pitching change in the top of the fourth frame with Megan Farrell replacing Feret. The Czechs capitalised with Dina Pfeiferova slugging a three-bagger but she was left stranded at third base.
Farrell exhibited good control in the top of the fifth, using her change-up effectively and clipping the outside corner of the plate.
The White Sox completed two outs before rain - a regular irritant at the first International Softball Federation senior world championships held in Europe - forced the teams off the diamond.
Frustratingly, the White Sox were just one out away from victory at that point with ISF rules allowing for games to be completed after five innings in the event of rain.
It was three and a half hours before the game could resume.
But the White Sox scored two more insurance runs in the sixth inning after hits to Kyla Bromhead, pinch hitter Stacey Webber, who slugged a double over centrefield, and Ferriso (her second of the game).
The Czechs pulled back a run with an automatic homer over the right-centerfield fence in the seventh but never threatened the White Sox's lead.