White Sox lose to China but can still advance
China crushed the White Sox 7-0 on Thursday but New Zealand can still qualify for the world women's softball championships if they beat Puerto Rico tomorrow.
The final score was embellished by a five-run seventh inning blowout by the Chinese at Haarlem, near Amsterdam this morning.
China's win dented the White Sox's chances of making the top-eight for the first time since 2006.
But Softball New Zealand official Glen Roff confirmed the White Sox can still make the cut if they beat winless Puerto Rico.
If Cuba lose, as expected to top seeds Japan and Canada, and the Czechs lose tomorrow, as they almost certainly, will to Japan.
The three teams would then share the same record - three wins and four losses - but New Zealand would go through on the tied team formula.
Under that system, runs for and against in the games involving the three teams, are calculated. New Zealand lost 1-0 to Cuba, but beat the Czech Republic 7-3. The Czechs beat Cuba, 6-3, so New Zealand would go through by one run.
Thursday's clash with China was make or break for the White Sox and they made a good fist of it for much of the match.
But China deserved their win. They outbatted the Kiwis 10 safe hits to six and made no fielding errors to New Zealand's two.
The White Sox started promisingly with Danica Ferriso picking up her eighth safe hit of the tournament in the first inning.
Katrina Nukunuku, another consistent Kiwi batter, singled in the second inning. Catcher Mel Gettins and rightfielder Ellie Cooper picked up hits in the third frame but their teammates were unable to bat them in.
Jennifer Feret's pitching kept the Chinese at bay for the first three innings, but Megan Farrell came onto the mound in the fourth and China grabbed a couple of hits to Dongmei Wei and Jia Guo and profited from a couple of walks to score their first run.
Farrell dug deep for a clutch, bases-loaded strikeout to end the inning.
China again produced two hits in the fifth inning and doubled their lead after a throwing error by Kiwi captain Lara Andrews at third base.
The White Sox showed plenty of pluck in the the bottom of the sixth with Feret and Andrews producing back-to-back singles, but they were left stranded.
Relief pitcher Tyneesha Houkamau did a solid job to contain the Chinese for a couple of innings but the Asians - silver medallists in 1986 and 1994 and bronze medallists in 1990 - finished powerfully, forcing Feret back on to the mound.
But China clubbed five safe hits in the top of the seventh with Jia hammering a triple up the third base-line to end the game with three RBIs (runs batted in).
In other games, the United States - nine-time world champions - beat Australia 4-2 in the feature Pool B game.
World number one pitcher Yukiko Ueno hurled Japan to a 4-0 shutout win over Canada, the Netherlands thrashed the Dominican Republic 14-1 and Chinese-Taipei edged out Italy 1-0 in eight innings.
That victory should earn the Taiwanese a place in the playoffs.
The United States and Australia will advance from Pool B, but four teams are still in contention for the remaining Two places.
But Chinese-Taipei should beat Great Britain tomorrow to end with a four win-three loss record and the Netherlands should join them if, as expected, they close with victories over bottom teams Great Britain and Botswana.