Red Sox risk missing playoffs
The Canterbury Red Sox crashed to three defeats at the National Fastpitch Championships and are at risk of missing the top-four playoffs.
Canterbury - who had three wins on the first day - lost 1-0 to Hawke's Bay, 2-0 to Wellington and 9-2 to defending champions Auckland at Albany's Rosedale Park yesterday.
Coach Greg Newton said their hopes of making the top four now hinge on beating North Harbour at 1pm today and "relying on some other results going our way".
Canterbury have been in the NFC final for the last three seasons and won the title - their first since 1996 - in the 2010-11 season.
Pitcher Penese Iosefo - still nursing a painful rib injury - threw manfully in all three games yesterday but the Red Sox bats fell silent.
They managed just four scattered safe hits off Hawke's Bay pitcher Regan Manley, who took 11 strikeouts.
Black Sox veterans Jarrad Martin and Thomas Makea - bidding for selection tomorrow in their fifth consecutive world championships squad since 1996 - blasted back-to-back home runs in Wellington's win over Canterbury.
Another Black Sox star, Donny Hale, hit two automatics in Auckland's comprehensive win over the Cantabs.
Hale and Thomas Enoka hit consecutive homers in the fourth inning when Auckland - with two batters out - rallied to score six runs off five successive safe hits.
Gareth Cook hit a consolation automatic home run for Canterbury.
The Canterbury Red Hawks women's team scored their first victory, beating Hawke's Bay 5-2. Young pitcher Amy Begg, throwing to experienced catcher Carly Werahiko, held Hawke's Bay to four hits and took six strikeouts for two walks.
Canterbury did the damage in the first inning with four runs after consecutive hits by Emma Frost, Steph Kepa, Oriana Hesp and Cassie Siataga, who cracked a triple over centrefield.
Siataga, who batted 1.000, and Frost had two hits each.
Begg restricted Wellington to two hits but the capital city team won 1-0 after pinch hitter Keri Simeon - a Canterbury draft player last season - drove in the only run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Mikayla Werahiko's three-bagger in the first inning was Canterbury's only safe hit.
The Red Hawks led Hutt Valley 3-1 after Charryl Moody and Carly and Mikayla Werahiko plated in the third inning but Hutt hit back with four runs off four hits and some defensive indecision to win 5-3.
Canterbury picked up a bonus point for losing by fewer than two runs.
If they upset Auckland in the final round-robin game this morning, they could still qualify for the top-four playoffs.