Could the career choice of Hawke's Bay softballer Hineawe Crawford prove to be a lucky omen?

When it was suggested it could be Crawford's eyes light up.

"It would be neat if I could follow a similar path to Thomas," Crawford said referring to the Bay's four-time world champion and retired Black Sox legend Thomas Makea.

When Makea, now 45, first made the Junior Black Sox team he was stacking shelves at the Countdown store in Hastings. This is where Crawford, who was recently selected in the Junior White Sox team for the August Under-18 World Championship in Peru, works as a checkout operator and on-line packer.

Advertisement

Like Makea, Crawford, has been prepared to travel in her quest for national selection. The former Hawke's Bay under-17, 15 and '13s representative has had stints in Waikato and Hutt Valley to enhance her chances.

The daughter of former Maori All Black, Hurricanes, Blues and Magpies prop Orcades Crawford and former Hawke's Bay hockey representative Kerri Thompson, Crawford, played for the Hutt Valley side which won January's national under-18 tournament in Auckland. She was named top pitcher at the event.

"That tournament definitely put me in contention. When I got the call to tell me I was in it was an ideal birthday present," Crawford said referring to her 17th birthday during the week the team was announced.

She has also represented Waikato at two national under-17 tournaments and the under-23 nationals. In 2018 she played for the Hamilton Girls High School team which won the national division two secondary schoolgirls title.

In 2017 Crawford played as a pick-up player for Napier Girls' High School at the same tournament when her Karamu High School side didn't travel. It was there that she caught the eye of then long-serving Softball New Zealand development officer and 1982 world title-winning White Sox captain Naomi Shaw who coached the Hutt Valley under-18 side in January.

Later in 2017 Crawford played in Brisbane with a New Zealand Development under-15 side.

In September last year Crawford toured California with the Wellington-based New Zealand Diamonds side which was coached by Shaw's daughter and former long-serving White Sox representative Kiri Shaw who is the Junior White Sox head coach.

"That tour was mind blowing ... an amazing experience," Crawford said.

Advertisement

Last month Crawford was in a Junior White Sox team which played in the National Fastpitch Championship in Hutt Valley.

"We would have come fourth but because we were an age group side we weren't eligible for the playoffs. But it was a great experience playing in an open women's tournament of that standard," Crawford explained.

Next month she will play for the Hutt Valley Saints side at the North Harbour-hosted national women's interclub tournament.

"Now I'm in the Junior White Sox side I want to make the most of my opportunities with the aim of making the White Sox in future," Crawford said.

She was quick to reply when quizzed about her biggest challenges in the wake of her selection.

"It has to be the fundraising. Each player has to raise almost $7000 so if anyone can help me with sponsorship I would love to hear from them. I'm happy with how my fitness work is progressing as well as my pitching ... it's just the fundraising now."

The full Junior White Sox World Cup squad is:
Pitchers: Hineawe Crawford (Hutt Valley), Cherie Inwood (Canterbury), Aroha Munroe (South Australia), Megan Sneddon (Auckland).
Catchers: Kiara Taimai (Auckland), Kimihia Tangianau (Hutt Valley).
Infield: Maddison Gerbes (Auckland), Caitlyn Lewin (Hutt Valley), Alyssa Lory (Canterbury), Lily Neilsen (Counties Manukau), Beyonce Rehutai (Wellington), Lace Tangianau (Hutt Valley).
Outfield: Mikayla Cross (Auckland), Maarire Puketapu (Hutt Valley), Beth Reid (Auckland), Kiri Winiata-Enoka (Hutt Valley).