Hawke's Bay's Courtney Gettins is poised to become one of the youngest players to pitch for the New Zealand women's softball team next week.
Gettins received word of her selection in the White Sox side to play in the October 26-28 Edebone Weber Shield tournament in Perth during the same week of her recent 16th birthday.
"It's pretty exciting to have the opportunity to pitch to my sister for the White Sox overseas, and to be part of a family first for the White Sox is pretty special too," Gettins said before a fitness session at Akina Park, Hastings, last night.
She was referring to the fact she became the third member of her family to be selected to play for the White Sox overseas. There have been several families who have had two members play for the White Sox but the Gettins, who play for the Hastings-based Dodgers club, are the first to have three.
Courtney's sister Melanie is a White Sox veteran at 22, having played for the side since 2006, and she has been the No1 catcher since 2010. Their mother, Charmaine, played short stop for New Zealand from 1986 to 88.
Like US-based former Hawke's Bay pitcher Rita Hokianga, Courtney will pitch for the White Sox before making a Junior White Sox World Series team.
"Hopefully some good displays for the White Sox will enhance my chances of selection in the Junior White Sox for next year's World Series in Canada," Courtney said.
While Courtney has been selected for a development role, her combination with her sister could see her emerge as the Kiwis' No1 pitcher during the tournament, which will see the White Sox play six Australian state teams over the three days.
"We've got a young squad for this trip and it's an opportunity to see who can cope with the pressure when being exposed to the next level," Melanie said.
She knows Courtney's strengths and weaknesses and pointed out there were seldom any arguments between the pair when it came to pitch selection.
"If there are, I'm usually right," Courtney, who intends to use the seven-hour flight to Perth for NCEA level-one exams swot, quipped.
A three-time national champion and three-time Central Region champion, Courtney pitched for the New Zealand International Softball Academy team in the United States this year. She also pitched Hawke's Bay to title honours at the national under-17 tournament in Christchurch and Auckland Ramblers to title honours at the national women's open club championships as a guest player.
An Iona College year 11 student, Courtney first played for the White Sox as a 15-year-old in invitation games against the Junior White Sox at Akina Park last year. However, she surprised her mother with her latest selection for the first of two Australian state championship tournaments.
"It's pretty amazing and a good reward for the extra work she has been putting in with Mel," Charmaine said.
This trio are three of five members of their family involved or previously involved, as is the case with Charmaine, with national teams. Melanie and Courtney's brother Josh is in the Black Sox training squad and has opted to play for Poneke Kilbirnie in the capital this season, with the aim of enhancing his chances of being selected in the Black Sox team to play in the North Harbour-hosted March World Series.
Their father Kevin Gettins is assistant coach of the Junior White Sox and will attend his second World Series with the team next year. It will be a surprise if his youngest daughter isn't on the same flight when the side travels to Canada.
Both Kevin and Charmaine intend to travel to Perth to watch their daughters complete their history-making family feat.