Wellington falter at the fastpitch softball champs

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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Wellington lost their unbeaten record at the National Fastpitch Championships men's softball tournament yesterday after an upset loss to North Harbour but are still in a three-way tie for first place.

Gene Lutton's Wellington team were thrashed 9-0 by Harbour, who had been winless on the first day of the Christchurch tournament.

Japanese world championship pitcher Hikaru Matsuda did the damage with a bases-loaded grand slam home run and Isaac Fletcher also picked up two hits for Harbour. It was Matsuda's second home run of the day after a two-run shot in a 4-2 win over Hutt Valley.

Wellington had earlier edged out Japan Universities 3-2 with shortstop Jerome Raemaki continuing his rich batting form with two hits form four at-bats.  Pitcher  Joel Harris held the Japanese to four hits.

Black Sox star Wayne Laulu crushed a home run and a double in Wellington's 7-0 five innings win over Counties Manukau-Waikato and Raemaki  also hit a two-bagger.

Hutt Valley had a disastrous day, slumping to three losses, including upset defeats to North Harbour 4-2 and 3-1 to Counties Manukau-Waikato, the tournament surprise packets who won three of their first four games.  Hutt were also hammered 7-0 in five innings by Canterbury last night and are yet to record a win in Christchurch.

Auckland dug deep for two fifth inning runs to edge out Japan Universities 3-2.

Wellington, defending champions Canterbury and Auckland share the lead after two days with four wins from five games.

Glen Roff's Wellington team caused the upset of the women's tournament, beating two-time champions Auckland 8-4 yesterday.

Wellington scored three runs in the second inning and another three in the fourth and capitalised on five fielding errors by underpar Auckland. Nita Hickey slammed a home run for Wellington and Kayla Rangiawha slugged a triple.  Canterbury draft pitcher Lauren Sutherland picked up the win for Wellington, who were outhit eight hits to six.

New Zealand White Sox captain Rebecca Bromhead and Santana Harris clouted triples for Auckland.

Hutt Valley beat crosstown rivals Wellington 6-3 despite being outbatted by nine hits to five. But Hutt produced the extra-base hits when they counted with White Sox infielder Danica Ferrison cracking a two-run homer, Mereana Makea and Brooke Eden blasting triples and pitcher Courtney Gettins swatting a two-bagger.  Hickey and Katie McAndrew ripped triples for Wellington, who later beat Southern Pride 5-3.

But Hutt crashed to a 5-0 loss to Canterbury whose American pitcher Sam Parkes threw her third shutout of the tournament and her first no-hitter.

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Canterbury took a stranglehold with three runs in the third inning for a 4-0 lead.  White Sox world series hopeful Mikayla Werahiko had two hits for Canterbury and former New Zealand outfielder Robyn Hall made a timely return for form with two hits at the bottom of the batting order.

The Canterbury Red Hawks led Auckland 1-0 when captain Carly Werahiko picked a second inning walk, advanced on Hall's deft running bunt and scored on leadoff batter Te Rangi Heke's centrefield single.

But the White Sox-stacked Auckland team, spearheaded by national team pitchers Michal Tangaroa and Megan Farrell, pulled back a run in the third inning when Ancelle van Molendorff  scored on Rebecca Bromhead's double.

The Aucklanders clinched the game in the fifth frame when Tegan Bromhead struck a single to score her sister Rebecca and Gillian Wills.

Alarmingly, Auckland made another four fielding errors to make it nine for the day, and Canterbury shaded them 6-5 in the hit count.

Auckland lead the women's competition  from Canterbury, Hutt Valley and Wellington.

Day two results:  Men:  Wellington 3 Japan Universities 2, North Harbour 4 Hutt Valley 2, Canterbury 4 Southern Pride 0, Auckland 4 Counties Manukau-Waikato 3, Canterbury 4 Japan Universities 1, North Harbour 9 Wellington 0, Auckland 6 Southern Pride 1, Counties Manukau-Waikato 3 Hutt Valley 1, Canterbury 7 Hutt Valley 0, Wellington 7 Counties Manukau-Waikato 0, Auckland 3 Japan Universities 2.

Women:  Auckland 12 Southern Pride 0, Hutt Valley 6 Wellington 3, Wellington 8 Auckland 4, Canterbury 5 Hutt Valley 0, Wellington 5 Southern Pride 3,  Auckland 3 Canterbury 1.

- Fairfax Media

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