Canterbury chase 19th crown
The Canterbury Red Sox have lost two Black Sox internationals, but gained another couple as they chase a 19th consecutive South Island men's softball title in Christchurch this weekend.
Outfielder Daniel Milne has retired from representative softball after helping the Black Sox win the world championships in Auckland in March and pitcher Penese Iosefo has declared himself unavailable this season.
But Canterbury coach Greg Newton has picked up pitcher Regan Manley (formerly with Hawke's Bay) and slugger Frank Pointon (ex-Wellington), who are part of new Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson's national training squad.
Iosefo was Canterbury's player of the year last season after pitching through the pain barrier, after a car accident and a groin injury, to lead the Red Sox to the national title and earn a Black Sox berth.
Newton, a former Black Sox pitcher himself, said Manley would take over Iosefo's strike pitcher role with last year's understudies Aiden Cocker and Scott Sutherland in support.
Sutherland is expected to be fit for the Jefferies Cup South Island tournament after being struck on the shoulder by a batted ball in club softball last weekend.
Canterbury co-captain Gareth Cook has also had an injury niggle but Newton hopes the ex-Black Sox outfielder will recover in time. Cook, co-captain Stephen Ratu and Black Sox infielder Tyron Bartorillo have formed Canterbury's leadership group.
Newton has also welcomed back catcher Sam Woodcock, absent last year through illness.
Black Sox squad member Josh Harbrow is holidaying overseas and Papanui teen Callum Bishop is at a Junior Black Sox under-19 squad camp in Hawke's Bay so Newtown has drafted in former Red Sox Callum Muir (Papanui) and Ant Stuart (Albion).
''We want to have a look at them before we finalise our squad for the NFC [National Fastpitch Championships],'' Newton said.
Canterbury has won the Jefferies Cup every year since the 1993-94 season but the Red Sox got a touch-up last year when they lost 3-0 to Otago in round-robin play and had to claw back from a 8-0 deficit to beat Marlborough 9-8 in a tiebreaker in the tournament final.
The Canterbury Red Hawks will have a four-pronged pitching staff for the Jubilee Cup South Island women's tournament.
Experienced pair Jenni Mumm and Elisha Smith join youngsters Amy Begg and Sara Carter.
But coach Carl Tuinenga said Mumm and Smith are unavailable for the NFC tournament in February so Canterbury ''will probably have to go to the draft for a couple of pitchers''.
Current New Zealand White Sox squad members Cassie Siataga and Emma Frost lead the Red Hawks infield and recent White Sox representatives Mikayla Werahiko and Robyn Hall will also be key figures.
Outfielders Te Rangi Heke and Ashlee Puckett return after missing last season through leg injuries. Halswell's Southland recruit Rachel Wilson will make her Red Hawks debut.
Nicole Baxter, Canterbury's captain for the last two seasons, is unavailable due to pregnancy, meaning catcher Carly Werahiko will assume more leadership responsibility.
The Canterbury under-19 team, coached by Jo Harris, will also contest the four-team Jubilee Cup series, giving Tuinenga an opportunity to evaluate his options before finalising his NFC squad.
Canterbury Red Sox men: Pitchers: Regan Manley, Scott Sutherland, Aiden Cocker. Catchers: Stephen Ratu, Sam Woodcock, Nathan Watt. Infielders: Frank Pointon, Matt Holmes, Steve McFarlane, Ant Stuart, Tyron Bartorillo. Outfielders: Gareth Cook, Josh Thompson, Callum Muir, Paul Barker.
Canterbury Red Hawks women: Pitchers: Amy Begg, Elisha Smith, Jenni Mumm, Sara Carter. Catcher: Carly Werahiko. Infielders: Emma Frost, Rachel Wilson Krystal Werahiko, Cassie Siataga, Mikayla Werahiko. Outfielders: Robyn Hall, Christina Bartorillo, Te Rangi Heke, Ashlee Puckett.
The South Island tournament starts today at 9am at Cuthberts Green. The men's and women's finals will be held at 9am tomorrow.
Six provinces will contest the inaugural Mainland Shield under-17 boys series.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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