Hawke's Bay's three long-serving New Zealand White Sox softballers have been selected in the team for the September Asia Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Shanghai.
Pitchers Courtney Gettins and Rita Hokianga and catcher Melanie Gettins were today named in the side by Hawke's Bay-based coach Kevin Gettins. As is consistent with previous Olympic qualifiers the team will be a 15-player roster. In the World Championship tournaments it is a 17-player roster.
A 15-player roster changes the dynamics of the make-up of the squad. It puts the selection focus on player versatility, and ensuring the squad is fit and injury free come September.
Coach Gettins said the selection process has been challenging and he and his coaching staff have gone through a number of selection scenarios before settling on naming a 14-strong team. The 15th player will be added after the Women's International Fastpitch Championship (Canada Cup) in Vancouver in July. The Major Sox (NZ U23 team) will compete at this tournament.
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Eight teams will fight it out at the Asia Oceania Olympic Qualifier for one spot at the 2020 Olympics. New Zealand, ranked 11th according to the World Baseball Softball Confederation rankings, and Australia, ranked 7th, are eligible to enter as two positions are available from the Oceania region. The other six teams will be found from the top six finishers of the Asia Games, to be held in May. Competing teams are expected to be Chinese Taipei (ranked 6th in the world), China (ranked 8th), Philippines (13th), South Korea (23rd), Indonesia (37th), Singapore (50th) and Malaysia (65th).
Coach Gettins knows that it will be tough competition, but said the White Sox have scored wins over Australia, China, China-Taipei and the Philippines in the last three years. Finding form will be the toughest challenge.
Previous White Sox captain Ellie Cooper and pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart are unavailable for selection due to personal commitments. The squad of 14 players and five reserves is:
Ancelle van Molendorff (Brisbane/ Auckland), Courtney Gettins (Alabama/ Hawke's Bay), Hailey Breakwell (California, USA), Jennifer Feret-Brear (Auckland), Kelley Renner (California, USA), Kingsley Avery (Auckland), Krysta Hoani (Auckland), Lara Andrews (Hutt Valley), Melanie Gettins (Hawke's Bay), Mereana Makea (Wellington), Mikayla Werahiko (Canterbury), Pallas Potter (Florida/ Hutt Valley), Rita Hokianga (Hawke's Bay), Stefanie Smith (California (USA).
Reserves: Amy Begg (Canterbury), Ashley Johnston (Hutt Valley), Erin Blackmore (Hutt Valley), McKenzie Giles-Martin (Perth, Australia), Zoe Tolhopf (Auckland).