Tough competition ahead for Fastpitch Champs

By Eru Paranihi

White Sox player Katrina Nukunuku is expecting tough competition from rivals at the National Fastpitch Championships in Lower Hutt starting on Thursday. Nukunuku is one of many White Sox players who has just returned from Sydney to turn out for their provinces.

The transition from playing for New Zealand to turning out for Auckland is a quick one for Nukunuku, with very little time to prepare.

Nukunuku says, “Well given the nature of our competition up here in Auckland we're a bit flat out with AFC games and tournaments. But, a core majority of the team have been together for a few years. I think once we get into camp we'll gel nicely, and we'll go out there to do what we need to do to win it.”

Six teams will turn out to compete at the National Fastpitch Championships which include southern powerhouses Canterbury, The Hutt Valley, Southern Pride and fellow Auckland side Counties-Manukau. But, according to Nukunuku, there is one side that stands in the way of that title.

“Everyone's going to be tough. Wellington will be strong. Their picks were White Sox pitcher Rita Hokianga and catcher Mel Gettins. They obviously add huge value to Wellington and what they already have in their association.”

The tournament will also offer opportunities for those players wanting to make the White Sox, especially fringe players who missed out on selection to play in International Down-Under series which was recently played in Sydney.

“I think for individual players the tournament is a selection tournament and in the coming weeks, our head coach Kevin Gettins will look to name the squad to tour Japan. So everyone will be trying to put their best foot forward to be them in light of selection.”

The tournament kicks off  10 am on Thursday at Fraser Park, Lower Hutt with Auckland set to take on the Southern Pride in their first encounter.