Matautia stands tall with bat for White Sox
Teenage outfielder Te Reo Powhiri Matautia isn't standing out at the world women's softball championships in Canada just because of her quintessentially Kiwi name.
Te Reo's bat is doing the talking. The White Sox rookie is leading the team's offence in Whitehorse, Yukon, and her batting form will be vital to securing a top-eight playoffs place.
The New Zealanders need to beat Italy at Whitehorse this morning and Chinese Taipei tomorrow to qualify in fourth place from Section B after a 12-1 five-innings thrashing at host nation Canada's hands yesterday.
Matautia, 18, picked up two of the Kiwis' four safe hits against Canada and was fourth on the tournament batting charts yesterday with five hits from 12 at-bats for a .583 average.
It's been a long time since a New Zealander has featured that highly at a women's world championships - probably since the heyday of Canterbury great Rhonda Hira in the 1990s.
Matautia, from Mangere, south Auckland, showed her promise with a strong batting performance for the Junior White Sox at the world under-19 women's championships in Cape Town last December.
Three of her five hits in Whitehorse have come against Canada, the 2010 world championships bronze medallists, and Australia, bronze medal winners at the 2008 Olympic Games. They are expected to qualify second and third, behind Japan, for the playoffs.
The Kiwi batters will have to be on their mettle against Italy after being held to four hits yesterday by Canadian pitcher Jocelyn Cater. Pitcher Megan Farrell and young Hutt Valley second base Danica Ferriso were the only batters other than Matautia to get a hit.
Canada's Melanie Matthews crushed a home run off the first pitch of the game. Canada scored twice in the second frame after two walks and three safe hits and leapt out to a 7-0 lead after four runs in the third inning spared by Natalie Wideman's two-base.
The Canadians collected 12 safe hits off three New Zealand pitchers, including five in the final frame off Farrell, including another automatic home run by Sheena Lawrick with Caitlin Lever on base.
Down 12-0, New Zealand showed some spirit in the bottom of the fifth with pitcher Megan Farrell scoring a consolation run after she led off with a single, advanced when substitute Krysta Hoani forced an infield error and plated on Matautia's second hit of the game.
The White Sox had runners left on second and third bases as Canada closed out the game.
- © Fairfax NZ News