Hawke's Bay pitcher Regan Manley may still get to pitch for New Zealand at the March World Series in North Harbour.
The Maraenui Pumas hurler was a surprise omission when the Black Sox team was announced after the finals of the four-day National Fastpitch Championship in North Harbour yesterday.
"I don't understand it. Regan was the top pitcher here on stats and has been the dominant New Zealand-based pitcher to date this summer and still can't get the nod ahead of three other pitchers who are all carrying injuries," Hawke's Bay manager Craig Waterhouse said last night.
However Waterhouse's Fast Pitch clubmate and Black Sox pitching coach Chubb Tangaroa said Manley is first on the list of his wider training group pitchers who will be asked to attend Black Sox training camps held in the build-up to the World Series.
"There are quite a few injured players among the 17 we named tonight. But we had to name 17 and those in the wider training group will be named in the next day or so," Tangaroa explained.
"The naming of our 17-strong squad was the result of a three-year process ... not just on what we saw at this week's NFC," Tangaroa emphasised.
"There's a big jump from provincial level to international level and our 17-strong squad consists of players who can handle pressure at international level," he said.
"Our job is to win the World Series."
Manley's US-based brother Jeremy Manley is one of three pitchers named in the squad who are carrying injuries. Auckland's Heinie Shannon and Canterbury's Penese Iosefo are the others and Hutt Valley's Nik Hayes is the fourth pitcher in the squad.
Hawke's Bay-raised Wellington-based utility Campbell Makea was another unlucky omission. His brother and three-time world champion Thomas Makea and Wellington teammate Jarrad Martin will attend their fifth World Series.
Despite Regan Manley dominating the pitching statistics, Hawke's Bay finished sixth in the eight-team men's section of the country's elite softball competition, their worst finish in three appearances at the event. Waterhouse agreed the Bay's 2-1 loss to North Harbour cost them a berth in the top four.
"We were one hit away from making the top four. We beat Canterbury 1-0 and they went on to beat Auckland 2-0 in the final ... that's how close things were up here," Waterhouse said.
Waterhouse pointed out his team picked up four players from outside the province for the tournament and only two made the starting nine.
"All four were picked for their hitting but they didn't come to the party in that department."
Hawke's Bay's Tom Makea snr coached Hutt Valley to a third placing. His son William, the youngest of four Makea brothers in action at the tournament for either Wellington or Hutt Valley, came up with some crucial offensive plays as the Hutt secured third.
The Hawke's Bay women finished last in their six-team NFC which saw Auckland beat Wellington 5-0 in the final. Former Bay pitcher Michal Tangaroa pitched for Auckland.
Hawke's Bay had one win from their six games.
The Bay's White Sox catcher Melanie Gettins was the top batter at the tournament with an average of 500 and the Bay's former White Sox infielder Angela Stubbs was another to shine with the bat.
"At times we made some poor defensive decisions when under pressure and that cost us. However experience gained at this level by our youngsters will benefit them in the future," Bay coach Kevin Gettins said, referring to the fact five of his players are also in his Hawke's Bay under-17 side.