Final World Series selection chance for young Softballers

By James Perry

The Under 18 National Women's Softball tournament takes place in Hamilton this weekend.  Players are hoping to make their final push for selection for the Junior World Championships in August.

The World Series in Irving, California will be the last at the U19 age grade before it becomes an Under 18 tournament in 2021 and an Under 23 tournament is created.

The Junior White Sox selectors are casting their eyes over the talent at Resthill's Park in Hamilton as they look to finalise their squad.

Coach Carl Tuinenga says there are around a dozen players at the tournament in their training squad of 30.  He is also impressed with the calibre of players outside of that group. 

"There's a great number of girls that are coming through that will be eligible for the Under 18s in 2021," he says.

Beth Reid is also impressed by the talent on display this week. 

"It's amazing to see.  Even younger players that were in the Under 15s National Championship, they're coming up here and they're doing so well."

Although already a member of the senior White Sox squad, the humble 16-year-old is hoping she can impress Tuinenga to gain selection for California. 

"If I get the opportunity it will be massive, it will be great- it will be massive exposure and I'll be able to learn and, look, it will just be amazing," the Ngāti Kahungunu product says. 

Her Auckland teammate, Edna Hickey, is also hoping she can earn the selectors attention. 

"I've been working, trying to get named for this squad or even the emerging, so being picked- oh that will be a dream come true, man!"

The 2021 Under 18 World Championships is something the many 15 and 16-year-old players at this tournament can begin aiming towards,

"For the younger ones, they should be putting their hand up and saying 'look at me for a couple of years time'," Tuinenga says. 

Waikato's Meeki Cooper-Nicola says "it'll be pretty cool" to be selected for a national side.  However the 15-year-old is focused on helping her side at this tournament. 

"I'm just aiming to play good, and yeah, it will be cool though."

Tuinenga says while he and his fellow selectors are looking at players currently within their squad, the door is never closed and some good performances by other women in Hamilton could force their way onto the plane in August.

The squad for the world championships in August in California will be named at the end of the national tournament on Sunday.