A tremendous act of generosity from the team has upstaged New Zealand's unbeaten run in pool play at the women's world softball championship in Canada.
The White Sox, who have Hawke's Bay's Kevin Gettins as head coach and four Bay-based players on the roster, recorded their third consecutive win in Surrey yesterday with a nine-inning 8-7 victory against Italy. However it's what the Kiwis did for the Kenyan players after their 28-0 win against the championship newcomers at the weekend which has dominated the headlines.
They noticed the Kenyans were slipping because they were playing in sneakers. Softball New Zealand president and head of delegation, Lyn Lockhart, organised contributions from players, management and supporters which allowed the White Sox players to present each of their Kenyan counterparts a new pair of softball cleats and three bats for their team gear bag.
"Our players really felt for the Kenyan players, they were at their first world championships and made a huge effort to attend but had limited resources," Gettins said.
Lockhart managed to get each of the Kenyan players' shoe sizes from team management.
"We didn't even know there are shoes for softball. I think now we know. This is such a surprise. I am so happy to have them," Kenyan captain Virginia Munderu said after being presented with her pair.
Kenyan team manager Francis Njeru Karagu said it was a wonderful gesture by New Zealand.
"We have only running shoes in Kenya. Even balls and bats, they are nowhere in Kenya. We knew coming here we were not really up to the game, but we said we have to come. We have to start somewhere. This equipment, we will use them very well."
Softball New Zealand CEO and former Hawke's Bay age group rugby rep Tony Giles said he was extremely proud of the New Zealand athletes and delegation to display that sort of integrity to a team not as fortunate as themselves.
"We must remember our young women are 100 per cent self funded. These occasions are better than the game, a case of looking out for each other, an occasion when foes become lifelong friends," Giles added.
Against Italy the Kiwis took the lead in the top of the third inning with a two run automatic from second base player Ellie Cooper. The Italians replied with four runs in the bottom of the third.
New Zealand tied up the game in the top of the sixth with another two run automatic this time to first base Jenifer Feret. Italy responded in similar fashion in their turn at bat with a two run homer to take a 6-4 lead.
With bases loaded, short stop Hailey Breakwell, who had been Hawke's Bay-based during the summer, drove in two runs in the seventh to tie the game up for the fourth time at 6-all. New Zealand failed to seize the opportunity by leaving three runners on base that inning.
In the first of two tie breaker innings Kingsley Avery drove in Mikayla Werahiko to give the White Sox the lead. The Italians scored one more run in the eighth to take the game into the 9th inning where New Zealand scored to go 8-7 up. Taylor-Paige Stewart who replaced starting pitcher Courtney Gettins of Hawke's Bay in the seventh inning closed the game out to give the White Sox the win and first place in their pool.
The White Sox play Great Britain today.
Coach Gettins returns to the diamond
Coach Gettins was back on the diamond yesterday after missing the weekend's 7-0 win against Peru through illness.
"Basically Kevin was told to sit out one game as a precautionary measure after a dizzy spell," Giles said. "Kevin has had a busy time with the World Cup tournament in Oklahoma before the world champs. Temperatures have been in the mid 30s and he got a bit dehydrated. He needed a bit of R & R and bounced back in style with that nine-inning win."
His assistant Tony Simpson was in charge in his absence. Simpson and Gettins and the coaches of the Junior Black Sox team which begins their World Series in Michigan this weekend, head coach Thomas Makea and assistant Jarrad Martin, are all former teammates who played for Hawke's Bay premier side Fast Pitch.