Hawke's Bay's four-time world softball champion Thomas Makea is on target to add another world title and a first as coach to his CV.
Makea, 39, who won four world titles during his playing days with the Black Sox, is head coach of the Junior Black Sox, his team yesterday downing defending champions and previously unbeaten Argentina 3-1 at the Junior World Series in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada in the double-life semifinal to secure a berth in today's final.
Makea's troops will play the winner of the curtainraiser, a sudden-death semifinal between Argentina and Japan. Maraenui Pumas utility Tiwana Aranui is the sole Hawke's Bay player in the Junior Black Sox, which also include Makea's son Dante Matakatea. who plays for Wellington.
Argentina opened the scoring with a run in the top of the third inning. New Zealand replied with three in the bottom of the third.
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Argentina out-hit the Junior Black Sox 4-1 but made four errors, four more than the Kiwis. Short stop Matakatea batted one runner in.
Should the Junior Black Sox win today's final, it will be the first time since 1987 the Kiwis have won the tournament.
Makea, joint winner of Ngati Kahungunu's 2013 Senior Sportsman award with Sevens star Gillies Kaka, never played in a world title-winning side at this level but his assistant coach and fellow four-time world champ with the Black Sox, Jarrod Martin, who played alongside Makea for Hawke's Bay's Fast Pitch team in the mid 1990s, was a member of the 1987 team.
The last time the Junior Black Sox made the final was in 1997 when Makea's younger brother Fabian was in the team.
Meanwhile in Vancouver yesterday, the Junior White Sox who are coached by Hawke's Bay's Kevin Gettins finished seventh in the Canada Cup tournament. This is a buildup tourney for next year's Junior World Series in Oklahoma.
Three Hawke's Bay players, Gettins' daughter and pitcher Courtney Gettins, infielder Brooke Eden and catcher Emma Houkamau, all enhanced their selection chances for Oklahoma. Next month Courtney Gettins will join her sister, catcher Melanie Gettins, as the Hawke's Bay players in the White Sox team to play in the Netherlands-hosted World Series.