Black Sox great Mike White bringing US college team home to play daughter's squad
New Zealand White Sox pitcher Nyree White is set to play against a top American college team coached by her father - Black Sox pitching great Mike White.
Head coach Kevin Gettins confirmed the White Sox would host White's University of Oregon team in a series at Auckland's Rosedale Park in December.
Oregon were the fourth-ranked team in the United States in 2017 and made their fourth trip to NCAA softball's Women's College World Series since White became head coach eight seasons ago.
Gettins said Oregon would provide the White Sox with tough opposition at the start of a busy international season leading up to the 2018 world championships in Japan.
"Oregon are one of the top teams in America," he said. It'll be a great test for us and good for Nyree to play against a team coached by her dad."
Nyree White, who grew up in Oregon, pitched for Stanford University and joined the White Sox for the first time on their Japanese tour last winter. She is playing club softball with Ramblers in Auckland this year.
Four White Sox squad members - pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart, catchers Mel Gettins and Zoe Tolhopf and utility Krysta Hoani recently went to Oregon for a training camp.
Gettins said the White Sox would also play in the New Zealand under-19 boys tournament in Christchurch in early January in a bid to prepare for a six-nation tournament in Australia in February.
"The Down Under tournament in Sydney has been branded as the Asia Pacific Cup with Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Italy joining Australia and New Zealand," he said.
Gettins said Chinese Taipei had also expressed an interest in playing a series in New Zealand after the Asia Pacific Cup.
"It's shaping up to a pretty big year.
"The White Sox haven't played in New Zealand for a while so it will be good to expose them to the softball public again."
The White Sox have named a 31-member training squad and have selected two groups to play against Oregon and in the under-19 boys tournament.
Gettins said "player availability has been challenging". "The amount of time we are asking them to get off work is huge, but we are able to get some of our US-based players back."
Infielder Hailey Breakwell (now an assistant-coach at Wichita State University and Gettins' daughter Courtney, a pitcher at the University of Alabama, will be back for both tournaments. Captain Ellie Cooper, who is on the coaching staff at her Florida State University alma mater, will return for the under-19s.
"We couldn't get Ellie over in time for the Oregon series and Mikayla Werahiko can't get back for either from Maryland University, which is a shame because she covers shortstop, third base and the outfield."
Stewart, who is training to be a doctor in California, will be added to either the Oregon series squad or the under-19 tournament team.
Gettins has promoted four members of the Junior White Sox's 2017 under-19 world championships team - Renner and Hutt Valley trio Denva Tait-Shaw, Mikayla Lewin and Pallas Potter in the wider training squad.
Shaw has a shot at becoming New Zealand's first third-generation softball international with her mother, Kiri Shaw, and grandmother Naomi Shaw both former White Sox captains.
AT A GLANCE
NZ White Sox softball squads
v Oregon Ducks (December 15-17 at Albany)
Pitchers: Jennifer Feret-Brear, Courtney Gettins, Rita Hokianga, Nyree White. Catchers: Mel Gettins, Zoe Tolhopf. Infielders-outfielders: Ancelle van Molendorff, Danica Ferriso, Hailey Breakwell, Kelley Renner, Kingsley Avery, Krysta Hoani, Lara Andrews, Mereana Makea.
For NZ under-19 boys tournament (January 4-7 in Christchurch)
Pitchers: Courtney Gettins, Nyree White, Jennifer Feret-Brear, Amy Begg, Pania Monk. Catchers: Mel Gettins, Zoe Tolhopf. Infielder-outfielders: Ellie Coper, Hailey Breakwell, Ancelle van Molendorff, Kelley Renner, Kingsley Avery.
Wider training squad: Aaria Tawha (Auckland), Amy Begg (Canterbury/Morgan State University), Ancelle van Molendorff (Brisbane), Breanna Gibson (Auck), Charlotte Tuala (Hutt Valley), Courtney Gettins (Hawke's Bay/University of Alabama), Danica Ferriso (HV), Denva Shaw-Tait (HV), Ellie Cooper (US), Emma Francis (Wellington), Hailey Breakwell (US), Jennifer Feret-Brear (Auck), Katrina Nukunuku (Auck), Kelley Renner (US), Kingsley Avery (Auck), Krysta Hoani (Auck), Kyla Bromhead (Auck), Lara Andrews (HV), Loran Parker (Auck), Meg Glading (Auck), Mel Gettins (Hawke's Bay), Mereana Makea (Wellington/Florida South Western College), Mikayla Lewin (HV), Mikayla Werahiko (Canterbury/Maryland University), Nyree White (Auck), Pallas Potter (HV), Pania Monk (Waikato/Eastern Arizona College), Rita Hokianga (HB), Shannon Hearne (Perth), Taylor-Paige Stewart (California), Zoe Tolhopf (Auck).