Paul Aitu/Softball NZ
The New Zealand White Sox suffered a doubleheader defeat at the world women’s softball championships against pool co-leader Puerto Rico and Mexico in Japan.
Pallas Potter’s home run was not enough for the White Sox in a 4-1 loss to Puerto Rico and they flailed at the plate in the late game on Tuesday with Mexican pitcher Dallas Escobedo hurling a no-hit shut out.
Escbodeo, a pitching coach at Cal State Fullerton University and a former Pro League pitcher, collected her third shutout of the tournament and second of the day after blanking the Netherlands 1-0.
The 26-year-old nabbed 10 strikeouts while yielding three walks and teammate Suzie Gonzales hit a fourth inning home run over the right field fence for a 1-0 win.
Taylor-Paige Stewart produced one of the White Sox’s better pitching efforts of the tournament, limiting Mexico to four hits and two walks while taking two strikeouts in a drizzle-affected match in Chiba.
The White Sox are now fated to play in the plate playoffs section for the bottom four teams in each pooll.
Potter’s hfifth inning home run – the teams’ first in Chiba – was the Kiwis’ highlight.
The 18-year-old – who is heading to a college scholarship in America – smashed a pitch by Meghan King, the top college pitcher in the United States, over the fence.
Puerto Rico also fielded three of the tournament’s top batters, including three category leaders Aleisha Ocasio (home runs), Claudio Rivera (hits) and Carsyn Gordon (runs batted in – RBIs).
The White Sox – disappointing in their first few games- produced a better all-round display against the unbeaten Puerto Ricans, but would rue only costly two-run lapse in the field in the fourth inning.
Puerto Rico profited when White Sox captain and second baseman Ellie Cooper made a good stretch in behind first base to grab the ball on her glove side.
TAKASHI AOYAMA/GETTY IMAGES
She flipped it to Potter, who could not glove it at first base, allowing Yahelis Munoz-Cardona and Carsyn Gordon to score.
Pitcher Rita Hokianga – the first White Sox pitcher to go the full distance at the tournament – gave up seven hits but exerted better control with her change-up pitch.
She gave up seven hits for three strikeouts and three walks.
Kingsley Avery – fast proving the White Sox’s defensive diva – had a superb game in centrefield, taking two diving catches and clutching a ball hit sharply above her head.
The Aucklander, who often looks like moving the ball in the batter’s box, has become one of her side’s key players.
Lara Andrews got a single to edge ahead of Cooper at the top of the Kiwi batting averages.
The Hutt Valley stalwart showed why she was once an American Pro League player with the bat and in the field.
Andrews – a 29-year-old at her fifth world championships – had a full-blooded swing caught on the centrefield fence off King’s pitching in the top of the second inning and later pulled off a snappy play, tagging a baserunner from her knees at third base.
TAKASHI AOYAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Shortstop Hailey Breakwell joined Andrews and Potter as New Zealand’s only safe hitters off three Puerto Rico pitchers.
Disappointingly for the White Sox, all of Puerto Rico’s runs came with two batters out.
Number eight hitter Shemiah Sanchez struck a two-down home run in the bottom of the second for the first run and had Cooper and Potter pulled off their play in the fourth it would have been three-down.
Puerto Rico wrapped up the game in the sixth, also on the final out.
Sanchez made base after beng hit by a pitch. Hokianga forced two batters to ground out, but she hit another with a pitch to issue another free base.
Up stepped Ocasio – a two-tool Chicago Bandits pitcher and slugger – to drive an RBI single.
AT A GLANCE
Day four results at the world women’s softball championships.
Great Britain 10 Botswana 0, Chinese Taipei 9 Philippines 7, Mexico 1 Netherlands 0, China 15 Botswana 1, Italy 3 Venezuela 1, USA 7 South Africa 0, Australia 11 Great Britain 0, Mexico 1 New Zealand 0, Japan 2 Canada 0.
Pool A: Puerto Rico, United States 6 wins-0 losses, Mexico 4-2, Chinese Taipei 3-3, Netherlands, Philippines 2-4, New Zealand 1-5, South Africa 0-6.
Pool B: Japan 6-0, Australia 5-1, Canada, China 4-2, Italy 3-3, Great Britain, Venezuela 1-5, Botswana 0-6.