As a youngster Hawke's Bay softballer Courtney Gettins watched the University of Alabama softball team on ESPN.
Gettins and her father Kevin sat in their living room of their Hastings home together to witness the team win the 2012 College World Series in the United States.
"Imagine going to a school like that," Gettins said as the Crimson Tide went into celebration mode.
"Well dad, we aren't imagining anymore, we did it," Gettins, 20, said to her father and White Sox coach yesterday as she signed her letter of intent in front of him and her mother, former White Sox infielder Charmaine Gettins in Florida.
A 2014 and 2016 White Sox pitcher at World Championship level, Gettins, will join the Alabama team for the 2018 season. She will be the team's first international student-athlete.
"These past two years at Florida State Western College have not only made me a better player but a better person. This chapter in my life is closing but the next chapter is going to be a good one. A regular kid from Hawke's Bay, New Zealand is going to the University of Alabama. Who would have ever thought," Iona College product Gettins wrote in an email home.
Tomorrow the two-time Ngati Kahungunu Junior Sportswoman of the Year award winner will graduate with an associates in art degree from FSW. Last weekend she led the FSW Buccaneers team to their first FCSAA State Championship and they secured a berth in the NJCAA Division One Championship to be played from May 17-20 in St George Utah.
"It was good to win the state championship after finishing second last year," Gettins said.
She intends to study sports psychology when she does her junior and senior years at Alabama.
"Playing for Alabama will help my game as it is an elite softball programme with great coaching staff and the facilities are like nothing seen in New Zealand. Being around players of this calibre will help me a lot with my game both physically and mentally," Gettins said.
"We are very excited to have Courtney join our softball family this fall," University of Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said.
"She comes from a tremendous softball pedigree and has led her junior college to nationals two years in a row," he added.
A 2013 and 2015 Junior Women's World Series player for New Zealand, Gettins, played a key role in the Hawke's Bay Dodgers national interclub title win in 2014. During her age group career she led Hawke's Bay rep teams to regional, interisland or national titles in the under-13, 15 and 17 age groups.
Gettins is undefeated at 31-0 with the Buccaneers this season. During 197.2 innings on the mound Gettins has established a 0.96 earned run average while collecting 198 strikeouts and conceding 33 walks. As a freshman, she was named in the NJCAA Division One pitcher of the year and a NFCA All American after going 39-6 with a 1.45 ERA while leading the Buccaneers to an appearance at the NJCAA national tournament in the programme's first year.
The younger sister of White Sox catcher Melanie Gettins, Gettins, will return to the Bay later this month to link up with the national team in the buildup to their tour of Japan during July. This tour is a key part of the White Sox buildup to next year's World Championship in Japan which is major part of the qualification process for the 2020 Olympics.
Hawke's Bay under-19 and under-17 softball pitcher Ihaka Tangaroa has been named in the Junior Black Sox team to play in the Australian Under-23 Championship in July. Players in the 20-strong squad are all contenders for the next year's World Series in Canada.
Hawke's Bay under-13 softball and baseball rep Karim Crawford has been named as a non-travelling reserve for the New Zealand under-13 team which will tour the United States in August.