Strong White Sox squad named for World Championships

A strong and experienced White Sox squad has been named ahead of the Women's World Softball Championships in Canada in July. 

The majority of the team has previous world championships experience with nine returning from the 2014 White Sox squad.

Six members have also had elite American college experience.

Florida State University outfielder Ellie Cooper has been named as captain. Cooper is the daughter of former Wellington pitcher Russell Cooper.

Captain Ellie Cooper.

Four players will be making their senior world championships debut. They are Rita Hokianga, Stephanie Smith, infielders Hailey Breakwell and Kuraroa Ratu-James and 17-year-old utility Mereana Makea.  

Katrina Nukunuku, who captained the team at the Down Under series in Sydney this season is still in the team. 

Although the likes of Nukunuku and Lara Andrews are senior members of the squad, head coach Kevin Gettins says selectors have gone for a "totally new captain" with an eye on the future.

"Ellie is 22, it's a snapshot of the future coming through. It's a pretty important next four years for the women's game and Ellie has done very well as a leader at Florida State. She brings a lot of intensity, drive and high standards,'' Gettins says.

Six players are currently on American College Softball scholarships and a further five are college softball graduates.

Kuraroa Ratu-James.

Gettins says, "We think it's a pretty balanced team which gives us a number of options in every area, defence, hitting and running, and we think we've got the best four pitchers available to us."

The World Championships are held every two years.

Mereana Makea.

The White Sox squad is as follows:

Pitchers: Jennifer Feret (Auckland), Courtney Gettins (Florida South Western College), Rita Hokianga (Hutt Valley), Taylor-Paige Stewart (University of Wisconsin). 

Catchers: Melanie Gettins (Hutt Valley), Stefanie Smith (Auckland), Kyla Bromhead (Auckland). 

Infielders: Katrina Nukunuku (Auckland), Danica Ferriso (Midland College, Texas), Hailey Breakwell (Hutt Valley), Mikayla Werahiko (Florida South Western), Kuraroa Ratu-James (Hutt Valley), Mereana Makea (Wellington). 

Mikayla Werahiko.

Outfielders: Ellie Cooper (Florida State University, captain), Charlotte Pointon (Hutt Valley), Lara Andrews (Pennsylvania Rebellion), Kingsley Avery (Ave Maria University, Florida). 

Non-travelling reserves: Keri Simeon (Wellington), Tyneesha Houkamau (Colorado Mesa University), Gillian Wills (Auckland). 

Head coach: Kevin Gettins. Assistant-coach: Tony Simpson. Manager: Aroha Metcalf. 

Taylor-Paige Stewart.