Topic: Softball

NZ White Sox look to Tokyo Olympics

By Moana Makapelu Lee

Senior and Junior Whitesox players are putting on their best performance this month in their eight match series against USA's Oregon Ducks.

But it's more than just a win against the visiting side they're looking for as New Zealand players seek selection for the 2018 Women's Softball World Champs.  

17-year-old Pallas Potter may be young but she has talent beyond her years.

The Junior White Sox captain says, "It's been a good experience and amazing getting more quality ball time from the Ducks.  It’s definitely what we need in terms of leading up to other tournaments."

She's just one of 31 junior and senior White Sox players in contention for a position in the New Zealand team that will compete at the August World Champs in Japan, which will potentially double as an Olympic qualifier.

NZ White Sox manager Aroha Metcalf says "Having 31 athletes from which to draw these teams is really exciting and all those 31 are in contention for the final 17 positions that will go to the worlds."

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will see the reintroduction of softball after a four year absence, in what Metcalf says could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the team.

"There's no guarantee that there will be softball in Olympics going forward so it's really important that the event is in Tokyo 2020.  It’s a huge step...a world spectacle that is widely supported and has the best athletes in the world on show, and we want to be there."

Today the mixed team, called the NZ Selection Squad, played their 7th match against the USA third-ranked college team, an experience they believe will challenge and prepare them for Worlds.

Metcalf says "They are arguably one of the best female teams in the States.  They have a whole range of skills including the short game and the long game and they have stronger pitching so we really need to be able to compete strong against teams like that.

"It's absolutely massive for them to play here and get the opportunity to play some quality ball.'

NZ Softball will select the final squad for the World Champs in June.