The New Zealand White Sox will be platooning their pitchers at the Australian inter-state series in Auckland with up to six hurlers set to share gam etime.
Coach Naomi Shaw doesn't expect any of her pitchers to complete a game at the Gilley's Shield tournament, which starts today at North Harbour's Rosedale Park.
The White Sox are without Michal Tangaroa, their best pitcher at the 2012 world championships in Canada. The Aucklander has work commitments this week and Taylor Paige-Stewart, another world championship hurler, has college commitments in the United States. Megan Farrell, the third 2012 squad pitcher, is on the comeback trail after taking the last domestic season off but she has not been named in the Gilley's series squad.
Jennifer Feret, the American import seeking New Zealand citizenship, will be the White Sox's most experienced pitcher this week. She will share the ball with US-based Rita Hokianga, two teenagers Tynesha Houkamu (Auckland) and Jasmin Kaiaruna (Wellington) and utilities Krysta Hoani and Beth Stavert.
Shaw said the days of one pitcher throwing a full seven innings were all but over.
"The international game is more a hitting game than ever before with the better bats and balls we have now.
"We are looking at splitting games. I can't see any pitcher going the whole distance in any one game. We'll have to be smart about rotating our pitchers."
Shaw's assistant Debbie Mygind, who pitched New Zealand to the gold medal at the 1982 world championships in Taiwan, will take charge of the pitcher-catcher batteries.
The White Sox have a solid core with previous world championship experience, including catcher Mel Gettins, corner infielders Rebecca Bromhead and Katrina Nukunuku and US-based outfielder Lara Andrews.
But Shaw has also introduced some of the stronger performers from the Junior White Sox squad that finished fourth at the under-19 world championships in Canada this year.
She has big wraps on the middle infield combination of Canterbury shortstop Cassie Siataga and Hutt Valley second base and consistent contact hitter Danica Ferriso.
Siataga is rated as the most promising shortstop in New Zealand since 1990 world series star Leslie King. Shaw said the 18-year-old's fielding range was "something we haven't seen before from a New Zealand shortstop."
"She and Ferriso cover the middle infield beautifully. It's great to have two juniors with such silky skills coming through."
Stavert, a pitcher who can also play at second base or in the outfield, is another of the Junior White Sox graduates.
Versatility is a feature of the White Sox squad with most players capable of playing in more than one position.
Without injured power hitter Te Reo Powhiri Matautia, the White Sox will rely on Bromhead, Gettins, Nukunuku, Andrews, Shannon Hearne and Hoani to bolster the batting lineup.
The Gilley's Shield is being held over two rounds this season. In Auckland, the teams will contest the Edebone-Weber Trophy, named after Australian and New Zealand softball legends Peta Edebone and Gina Weber.
Queensland, whose lineup includes former White Sox player Carmelle Sorenson, and Western Australia, who have won three of the last four Gilley's Shield titles, should be the frontrunners. But Shaw said members of Australia's world championship bronze medal squad were evenly spread across the state teams.
The ACT Diamonds will be coached by former Australian men's world championship winning mentor Bob Harrow.
WHITE SOX SQUAD
Pitchers: Jenniefer Feret, Tyneesha Houkamau, Krysta Hoani, Rita Hokianga, Jasmine Kaiaruna, Beth Stavert.
Catchers: Mel Gettins, Kyla Bromhead. Infield: Rebecca Bromhead, Danica Ferriso, Cassie Siataga, Katrina Nukunuku, Shannon Hearne.
Outfield: Tegan Bromhead, Lara Andrews, Gillian Wills.
- © Fairfax NZ News