Three titles in a row for Auckland men's and women's softball teams

Zane van Lieshout slides into home plate for Auckland's only run in the  NFC men's softball final.
Kevin Stent

Zane van Lieshout slides into home plate for Auckland's only run in the NFC men's softball final.

Auckland remains the power base of New Zealand softball with the men's and women's teams locking up their third consecutive national titles.

Venita Hokai's women's side produced a big inning to snare a 5-2 comeback victory over Wellington in the National Fastpitch Championship finale at Lower Hutt's Fraser Park on Sunday.

The Auckland men - led by Black Sox stalwart Nathan Nukunuku - followed up with a 1-0 win against Wellington.

Auckland pitcher Kenta Okazaki fires down a fast ball in the National Fastpitch Championships softball final at Lower Hutt.
Kevin Stent

Auckland pitcher Kenta Okazaki fires down a fast ball in the National Fastpitch Championships softball final at Lower Hutt.

Auckland were well worth their win, collecting six safe hits to Wellington's three, but could only get one runner across the plate.

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Black Sox catcher Zane van Lieshout, the tournament's leading batter going into the final day, slugged  a double in the top of the second inning and slid home to score after a Wellington outfielder lost sight of the ball in the sun.

Wellington pitcher Josh Pettett winds up.
Kevin Stent

Wellington pitcher Josh Pettett winds up.

Japanese pitcher Kenta Okazaki was again in commanding form on the mound, allowing just two safe hits as he racked up eight strikeouts. He dug deep to dismiss dangerman Tyson Byrne on a full count at the start of the final inning.

Wellington second baseman Dante Matakatea raised a glimmer of hope when he powered the ball towards the centrefield fence in the third inning. But Auckland's Ben Enoka completed the catch just inside the boundary. 

Enoka led the Auckland batting effort with two hits from three plate appearances with Nukunuku, van Lieshout, Nukunuku and Thomas Enoka also collecting hits off Wellington's Black Sox pitcher Josh Pettett, who finished with seven strikeouts.

The Wellington infield in a huddle.
Kevin Stent

The Wellington infield in a huddle.

Black Sox veteran Wayne Laulu and outfielder Callum Lewis-Carson got Wellington's only hits.

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The Auckland women were trailing 2-1 after the first inning, but their bats sparked into life in the sixth inning.

The Aucklanders had been struggling for hits against Wellington's White Sox pitcher Rita Hokianga, so  coach Hokai rolled out her short game.

Samantha Parks drove in two runs to help Auckland win the national women's softball championship final.
Phototek.co.nz

Samantha Parks drove in two runs to help Auckland win the national women's softball championship final.

Ancelle van Molendorf led off the top of the sixth with a base-hit bunt and Jennifer Feret-Brear repeated the feat. Another bunt resulted in catcher Kyla Bromhead making base through a fielder's choice.

Hokianga rallied with a strikeout, but Auckland's Samantha Parks - better known as a pitcher - stepped up and slammed a single to score van Molendorf and Feret-Brear for a 3-2 lead.

Bromhead made it 4-2 when Wellington elected to take an out at first base rather than make a play at home plate.

Tyla Morrison pitched Auckland to the NFC women's title.
Ben Campbell / Phototek.nz

Tyla Morrison pitched Auckland to the NFC women's title.

Feret-Brear cemented victory in the top of the seventh when she doubled to score van Molendorf, who had picked up a single to start the inning.

Wellington's Emma Francis was the star batter of the final with the designated player recording a 1.000 average with three hits from as many at-bats.

Francis clouted a triple in the bottom of the first inning to score Danielle Tanoa and Wellington took a 2-1 lead when replacement runner Marama Makea crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

Bayley Pearson-Hoani pitched Auckland into the national softball final after a 2-1 win over North Harbour.
David Joseph / Phototek.nz

Bayley Pearson-Hoani pitched Auckland into the national softball final after a 2-1 win over North Harbour.

That jittery inning prompted Hokai to recall Tyla Morrison to the pitching mound and the young Waitakere Bears pitcher shut down the Wellington hitters, with the notable exception of Francis, who had two more hits, and Tanoa, who collected a late innings single.

Morrison took six strikeouts to Hokianga's five.

Wellington beat Canterbury 2-1 in the women's playoff after outbatting the Southerners, six hits to three.

Brad Rona hit a home run in North Harbour's narrow loss to Auckland.
Dave Mackay / Phototek.nz

Brad Rona hit a home run in North Harbour's narrow loss to Auckland.

They owed a lot to Hokianga, who struck out 11 Canterbury batters while yielding three hits and two walks.

Canterbury opened the scoring in the fourth inning when designated runner Olivia King crossed the plate after an error by Hokianga. Lucy McIntyre had earlier got a hit off the New Zealand hurler.

Paiton Koko-Latu batted in Wellington's tying run in the fifth inning and Brooke Cutting - fresh from her automatic home run against Hutt Valley on Saturday - stepped up in the sixth to drive home Makea for the match winner,.

Auckland advanced to men's final after a 2-1 win over North Harbour.

Black Sox pitcher Bayley Pearson-Hoani held the Harbour batters to four safe hit while taking four strikeouts.

North Harbour - who beat Auckland in pool play - have never won a NFC title, but their greatest player, Black Sox great Brad Rona, gave them a glimmer of hope with a first inning home run.

Auckland second baseman Regan O'Neill singled in the bottom of the second and replacement runner Bradley Bennett equalised after a poor throw.

Black Sox outfielder Alfons Oveinikovas slammed a triple to bring Bennett home for the winning run in the fifth frame.

AT A GLANCE 

Final results from the Pak N Save National Fastpitch Championships.

Men

Playoff for 4th/5th: Canterbury 5 Hutt Valley 4.

Playoff for 6th/7th: Southern Pride 1 Counties Manukau-Waikato 0.

Preliminary final: Auckland 2 North Harbour 1.

Grand final: Auckland 1 Wellington 0.

 

Women

Playoff for 5th/6th: Hutt Valley 8 Counties Manukau-Waikato 1.

Preliminary final: Wellington 2 Canterbury 1.

Grand final: Auckland 5 Wellington 2.

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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