University of Oregon Ducks women's softball coach and former Black Sox pitcher Mike White arrived at Akina Park, Hastings on a redemption mission yesterday.
The last time the 1996 world champion was at the venue he was playing for Miramar in Lion Red interclub fixtures against Hawke's Bay representatives Cheers and he got ejected.
"It was 1989 and we had to win both games to get into the final. We lost both games on what I considered to be some bad calls," White recalled.
There was never any risk of his Ducks losing either of last night's games against the New Zealand All Stars Selection. The Ducks were a far more professional and urgent outfit and thoroughly deserved their 4-2 and 9-4 victories.
"After losing our last game against the White Sox in Auckland at the weekend [4-2] I wanted to see how our girls would bounce back. The last game tonight was one of our better games so I'm pretty happy," White said.
He was also impressed with some of the Bay youngsters who turned up to a coaching clinic conducted by the Ducks yesterday.
Among those to catch his eye were Hawke's Bay under-19 pitcher Ihaka Tangaroa, a son of one of his former Black Sox teammates Chubb Tangaroa, and Ava Karauria, a daughter of former White Sox infielder Angela Stubbs.
"Ava is a little leftie and we need more of them," White added.
Left-handed Hawke's Bay White Sox pitcher Rita Hokianga, who pitched two innings and hit a double with her first turn at bat in the first game last night, said the hosts could still take plenty of positives out of the 5-1 series loss in Auckland and last night's games.
"Apart from the last game tonight we get better in each of our games. We know we need to keep working harder."
While work commitments will prevent Hokianga from playing for the White Sox at the January 4-7 national under-19 boys tournament in Christchurch she will be back on international duty at February's Asia Pacific Cup tournament in Australia.
All Stars coach Carl Tuinenga, unlike his Ducks counterpart White, resisted the temptation to start with his top line-up and this showed. Instead he and Hawke's Bay-based White Sox coach Kevin Gettins, who was in analysis mode last night, were testing their depth as they look ahead to next year's World Championship in Japan.
The Ducks opened the scoring in the third inning of the first game with an automatic home run over the centre outfield fence from second-base player Lauren Lindwall. In the fourth inning designated runner Cherish Burks scored on a sacrifice hit from first-base player Mia Camuso to the left outfield.
The tourists extended their lead in the fifth inning with two more runs. Burks hit third-base player Jenna Lilley and centre outfielder Shannon Rhodes home.
Hutt Valley centre outfielder Mikayla Lewin gave the All Stars some hope with an automatic home run over the left outfield fence in the bottom of the sixth. This hope was boosted when the first batter in the bottom of the seventh, Hutt Valley first-base player Pallas Potter, smashed an automatic home run over the centre outfield fence.
The All Stars managed four hits off Ducks pitcher Maggie Balint. The Ducks took six hits off the All Stars pitching staff of Hawke's Bay's Rita Hokianga, Waikato's Pania Monk and Canterbury's Amy Begg.
Balint collected 10 strikeouts while conceding one walk. Her team made one error and that came in the bottom of the seventh, while the Kiwis made two errors.
Right-handed Hawke's Bay pitcher Courtney Gettins conceded five hits and three runs during her two innings on the mound in the second game. It was a pity the Hawke's Bay crowd didn't have get the opportunity to see her pitch to her sister, long-serving White Sox catcher Mel Gettins.
All of the Ducks Courtney Gettins predicted would stand out did. Pitcher Megan Kleist collected 11 strikeouts during the first five innings of the second game as the tourists established a 6-0 lead. The All Stars scored all four of their runs when the tourists took their foot off the throat with the score 9-0 in their favour.
In the first inning Ducks first-base player Gwen Svekis smashed a three bagger which scored second-base player Lauren Lindwall and catcher Mary Iakopo hit a three bagger to score Svekis. The second inning saw three more runs scored.
Another run was added in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Substitute batter Hailey Breakwell sparked the All Stars comeback when she hit Beth Reid home. Designated player Pania Monk then hit second-base player Ellie Cooper home before Breakwell scored on a hit from first-base player Potter.
The hosts' final run came when a batter was walked in a loaded bases situation.