White Sox softballers go down to South Australia

Last updated 23:01 12/12/2013

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The New Zealand White Sox slumped to a second 4-3 defeat tonight on the first day of the Edebone-Weber Shield trans-Tasman women’s softball tournament in Auckland.

Naomi Shaw’s side were edged out by the ACT Diamonds after losing by the same score to the South Australia Starz in their opening round encounter at North Harbour’s Rosedale Park.

The White Sox outbatted their opposition for the second time,  collecting six safe hits to ACT’s five.

But the Canberra combination, coached by Australia’s 2009 men’s world championship winning coach Bob Harrow, made the most of their run-scoring opportunities.

The Diamonds raced out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning with runs to Sherelle Moore, Clare Warwick, who hit a double, and Caitlin Bunker, the latter on a hit by Jessie Folkard.

But the White Sox equalised after a withering scoring burst in the bottom of the fifth. Pinch hitter Tyneesha Houkamau was hit by a pitch and scored when catcher Mel Gettins punched a two-base hit.

Canterbury shortstop Cassie Siataga stepped up and displayed hitting power belying her spot at the bottom of the batting order. The 18-year-old slugged a triple to drive in Gettins for the second round and she scampered home herself on a wild pitch.

But ACT inched ahead again in the sixth inning when Clare Currie scored after Alexis Cooper forced Kiwi relief pitcher Beth Stavert into a defensive error.

Gettins cracked her second safe hit of the game with a rightfield single in the bottom of the seventh. But Siataga couldn’t repeat the double act this time, striking out  to ACT pitcher Greta Cechetti, who also fanned Krysta Hoani for the final out of the game.

Substitute Gettins recorded a perfect 1.000 average with the 23-year-old Hawke’s Bay catcher cracking two safe hits from two at-bats.  Siataga, Danica Ferriso, Rebecca Bromhead and Lara Andrews were New Zealand’s other successful hitters.

New Zealand would have rated their chances against South Australia, traditionally one of the weaker teams in the Gilley’s Shield inter-state competition, and they outbatted their rivals nine safe hits to five. But they left too many runners stranded in scoring position.

The Adelaide outfit found their hitting form in the fifth frame to score four runs, highlighted by a two-run automatic homer from Australian international catcher Belinda White.

New Zealand scored their first run in the top of the fifth when catcher Mel Gettins forced an infield error. Shaw brought in pinch runner Gillian Wills, who successfully slid into second base as Siataga punched the all into the infield. Krysta Hoani singled to leftfield but Starz fielder Jenny Dunn threw Willis out at home plate.  Danica Ferriso stepped up to bat in Siataga with a blooper hit.

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But the home team’s lead was shortlived with South Australia producing a four-run spree in the bottom of the fifth.

The White Sox bounced back with three consecutive hits in the sixth inning to Kyla Bromhead, Gettins and Siataga but could only peg back one run for a 4-2 deficit.

New Zealand loaded the bases in the top of the seventh when Ferriso singled to centrefield, Lara Andrews drew a walk and the Starz intentionally walked Feret.

Shaw replaced Kyla Bromhead, who had already had two hits from three at-bats, with her sister Tegan, who was making her international debut.  She did her job to take the pitching count deep but when Ferriso scored on a wild pitch, South Australia replaced closer Kristyn Barry with starter Vanessa Stokes. The Australian world  championships pitcher promptly struck out Tegan Bromhead  with her first pitch to end the game.

South Australia Starz 4 New Zealand White Sox 3.

Hits: NZ 9-5. (Kyla Bromhead, Danica Feriso 2, Cassie Siataga, Mel Gettins, Tyneesha Houkamau, Jennifer Feret, Krysta Hoani).

ACT Diamonds 4 NZ White Sox 3.

Hits: NZ 6-5. (Gettins 2, Siataga, Ferriso, Rebecca Bromhead, Lara Andrews).

Other Day One results

New South Wales Firestars 13 Northern Territory Fury 0 (4 innings). Hits: NSW 10-0.

Victoria Titans 6 ACT Diamonds 0. Hits: Vic 6-4.

NSW 5 Queensland Heat 3. Hits: NSW 9-6.

ACT 1 Western Australia Flames 0. Hits: ACT 3-2.

Western Australia 14 Northern Territory 2 (4 innings). Hits: WA 16-3.

Victoria 11 South Australia 10. Hits: 10-10.

Queensland 21 Northern Territory 0 (4 innings). Hits: QLD 16-2.

Queensland 8 Western Australia 1. Hits: QLD 9-3.

- Fairfax Media

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