Who said the days of New Zealand sports teams hosting opponents for a meal on the eve of international fixtures were long gone?
"Yes, we're doing that - and we did joke about getting them drunk so we would have more of a chance of beating them," quipped Hawke's Bay's White Sox softball pitcher Courtney Gettins before heading home yesterday to help others in her family prepare dinner for the 41-strong University of Oregon Ducks team and management tour party.
"Seriously, we've got a good little relationship going with the Ducks and we know they would be good hosts if we were touring the States. Four of our players spent two weeks training with the Ducks in Oregon so they know all of their girls pretty well," Gettins explained.
Gettins is one of three Hawke's Bay players in the New Zealand Women's All Stars team who will take on the Ducks in a doubleheader at Akina Park in Hastings today.
Her sister and catcher Mel Gettins and fellow pitcher Rita Hokianga are the others.
Courtney Gettins, 21, will be playing on home turf for the first time in four years.
"It's going to be cool to play at home in front of three generations of my family for New Zealand. The last time I played at Akina was when a few of us girls were playing for the Dodgers senior B men's team in 2013," the two-time Ngati Kahungunu Junior Sportswoman of the Year award winner recalled.
Gettins returned home from pre-season training with her University of Alabama team on Friday so missed the White Sox 7-0 and 6-4 losses to the Ducks in Auckland later that day. However she had innings on the mound during the 3-2 and 8-2 losses on Saturday and during Sunday's 3-1 loss and 4-2 win.
"Playing at a higher level more consistently is our biggest work-on. Kiwi teams have a tendency to drop off and we have to avoid that," Gettins said.
While Hawke's Bay fans would be thrilled to see Gettins and Hokianga receive a game each on the mound today, Gettins said they are likely to receive innings in both games along with Waikato's Pania Monk and Canterbury's Amy Begg, who didn't play in Auckland.
A 2014 and 2016 White Sox pitcher at World Championship level and one who is regarded as an encyclopedia of the game by her peers, Gettins was quick to reply when quizzed on which Ducks players have the potential to impress Bay spectators today.
"Their starting catcher [Gwen Svekis] is a power hitter, their pitcher Megan Kleist has a good drop ball, outfielder Shannon Rhodes is quick and nifty with the bat while one of their second-base players is definitely smart."
The All Stars will receive a boost with the return of White Sox captain Ellie Cooper from the United States. She will play second base for the hosts.
Gettins pointed out the Ducks, who are coached by former Black Sox pitcher Mike White, are ranked third in the United States and her University of Alabama team 10th. She expects to play for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide against the Ducks in July.
From January 4-7 Gettins will play for the White Sox in the national under-19 boys tournament in Christchurch before returning to the United States. All going to plan she hopes to be selected for next year's World Championship in Japan, where the world's fifth-ranked team will aim for a top-six finish to keep their hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo alive.
Before then there should be more than a few appearances for the University of Alabama team on ESPN, something she dreamed about as a youngster.
"Who would have thought it would all come together like it has ... it's pretty exciting," she added before switching into cooking mode.
Earlier this year Gettins, a 2013 and 2015 Junior Women's World Series player for New Zealand, led her former Florida State Western College team to their first FCSAA State Championship.
Teams for the 4pm and 6pm games:
NZ All Stars Selection: Amy Begg (Canterbury), Beth Reid, Katrina Nukunuku, Maddy Roy (all Auckland); Courtney Gettins, Rita Hokianga, Mel Gettins (Hawke's Bay); Denva Shaw-Tait, Mikayla Lewin, Pallas Potter all (Hutt Valley); Mereana Makea (Wellington); Pania Monk (Waikato); Ellie Copper (Missouri, USA); Kelley Renner, Hailey Breakwell (both California, USA).
University of Oregon Ducks: Jenna Lilley, Darya Kaboli-Nejad, Lauren Burke, April Utecht, Mia Camuso Lauren Lindvall, Shannon Rhodes, Alexis Mack, Mary Iakopo, Olivia Kinsey, Gwen Svekis, Megan Kleist, Madi Bishop, Maggie Balint, Haley Cruse, Shaye Bowden, Cherish Burks, Di Sanders, Miranda Elish.