After four years of missing the cut, the Havelock North First XI have earned the right to challenge for the supremacy of the country's best intermediate girls' cricketers.
The Kendra Campbell-coached side, who are the Hawke's Bay qualifiers, on Wednesday beat the Wellington qualifiers, St Peters & Pauls School, by 100 runs in the twenty/20 encounter in Masterton.
Batting first, Havelock amassed 175-2 on the foundation of 101 runs from opener Sophie Pyott.
"It's Sophie's first century and she lost her wicket in the 20th over," mother Megan Pyott said last night of the Havelock North High School-bound pupil who started playing her first full season with the Morgan Financial Solutions Cornwall women's team in the Bay club competition last Saturday.
While some deliveries were full or loose, Sophie had the killer instinct to bring up her ton from 60 balls, including 17 boundaries.
"In the last three Milo Cup games before Masterton, Sophie's had two 50 not outs," the mother said, after the village pupils beat a Wanganui school to face their Wellington rivals.
Last year the Havelock side endured a gut-wrenching one-run defeat to Tawa at Palmerston North.
Campbell said Sophie bowled an over but she took her off because she had done enough for the team.
"We were expecting a big game but we never believed we'd get a total like that," the coach said of a player who shares wicketkeeping with her daughter, Olivia Campbell.
The Bay side had a splendid bowling and fielding effort, stifling St Peters & Pauls to 75-5 from their 20 overs.
Opener Olivia Campbell took 1-11 from four overs, Monique Way claimed none for 7 from three overs while Zoe Parker got 1-8 from three. Havelock North will now move through to the NZ Shield finals to be held in Palmerston North on November 28 and 29.
Campbell said her girls, three who play for clubs (Sophie, Monique and Olivia) and several who attended the HBCA winter camp, were showing the benefits of continuity by playing in the high school competition, where they were three from as many wins this summer.
"We haven't batted below No 5 or six," she said, adding while the shield finalists were unknown quantities, they would be wary of Havelock North, too, at the end of the month in Palmerston North.