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Pitcher felled after being hit in face by batted ball in dramatic national softball championship game

February 17, 2019

Christ Church, NZ - - Pitcher felled after being hit in face by batted ball in dramatic national softball championship game



Wellington's Black Sox pitcher Josh Pettett had to leave the diamond after he was struck in the face by a hard-hit drive in an incident-packed National Fastpitch Championships playoff with Auckland.

Pettett had no chance of getting his glove to the fierce hit by Auckland player-coach and Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku in the fourth inning of Auckland's 4-3 win in Christchurch on Saturday evening.

The Wellington pitcher hit the ground and plate umpire Tony Kaiaruna immediately stopped play as teammates streamed to Pettett's aid.

Nukunuku also showed his concern, dropping to his knees to check on the condition of his Black Sox teammate, who was being checked by medics.


Pettett eventually got to his feet and seemed to want to continue. But, after Kaiaruna consulted a medic, Pettett, who had made a point of shaking Nukunuku's hand, left the diamond to applause from both teams and the Mizuno Ballpark crowd.


Sam Marley came on to replace Pettett on the pitching mound after a 20-minute delay.

Pettett was taken away for X-rays.


Nukunuku was correctly credited with a safe hit, which was enough to score Bradley Bennett (who had tripled to the leftfield corner) to tie the score at 1-1.

It was a sad incident in a gripping game worthy of a grand final.

Pettett had been throwing well in a head-to-head pitching duel with fellow Black Sox world champion Nik Hayes.

Wellington threw everything they had at Auckland with aggressive coaching by Thomas Makea and heroic hitting by his sons Dante Matakatea and Reilly Makea.

The brothers combined for Wellington's first run with Reilly Makea hitting a high hopper to shortstop Cole Evans, who athletically grabbed the ball high over his head. He fired the ball home, but not before the speedy Matakatea had scooted around to score from second base.

Nukunuku's RBI single tied up the game, before Wellington's brothers act took centrestage again in the fifth inning.

Matakatea, who reached base on all four at-bats, smashed a home run for a 2-1 lead. Makea followed his older brother's lead with a back-to-back blast over the fence.

Marley had done a good job in relief for Wellington, but Auckland's pressure told with three rounds in the top of the seventh inning to grab a 4-3 lead. Marley and closer Eru Drage dished up too many walks, with Auckland scoring a vital run off a bases-loaded walk.

With the score tied at 3-3, Bennett hit a sacrifice fly to centrefield to score Alfons Oveinkovas for what proved to be the winning run.

Hayes lost his rhythm in the bottom of the seventh, conceding three walks - one intentional - to load the bases. But the experienced international pitcher recovered his mojo to strike out John McCaulay to end the game.

Hayes took 13 strikeouts for five hits and six walks and three earned runs.

Pettett had struck out five batters for two hits and a walk before his unfortunate early departure.

 Nukunuku had two hits from three for Auckland while Bennett and Cole Evans slugged triples.

Makea and Jerome Raemaki also went two from three in Wellington's batting lineup.

Auckland advanced directly to Sunday afternoon's grand final while Wellington play off with North Harbour for the other final berth.

It would not surprise if Auckland and Wellington were to have another classical encounter in the gold medal game.

North Harbour cemented a top-three position with a 4-3 win over Canterbury, who had to settle for fourth place. Former Black Sox outfielder Hohepa Monk hammered a three-run home run for Harbour in the fifth inning.

Canterbury had earlier beaten titleholders Hutt Valley 7-0 after three hits from four at-bats by Black Sox B player Callum Bishop and a shutout pitching performance from tall right-hander Ryan Britt.

Women's NFC


Auckland advanced directly to the women's grand final after crushing champions Hutt Valley 12-0 in four innings.

White Sox pitchers Jennifer Feret-Brear and Tyla Morrison combined for a no-hitter for Auckland with Feret-Brear nabbing four strikeouts.

Auckland's corner infielders Taylor Chongnee (first base) and Veronika Peckova (third base) both batted 1.000 after three hits from three at-bats, as did Feret-Brear, who went two from two.

The Aucklanders avenged their first day defeat to Hutt Valley in emphatic fashion.

Hutt Valley now have to face neighbours Wellington for the right to meet Auckland in the final.

Wellington coach Naomi Shaw had been concerned about her team's hitting earlier in the tournament, but the floodgates opened in a 11-1 four innings win over Counties Manukau-Waikato.

Second baseman Madison Lovatt led the rout with three hits from three attempts while Mereana Makea and Aroha Hibbert had two hits apiece.

Counties Manukau-Waikato could only take two hits off Wellington's American pitcher Kaycee Prevedel.

The 10-run win represented a massive turnaround for Wellington, who had lost 1-0 to Counties Manukau-Waikato earlier on Saturday and then had fight hard to earn a rematch by edging Canterbury, 4-3.


Results from Saturday's play at the National Fastpitch Softball Championships


Wellington 3 Canterbury 0, Auckland 10 North Harbour 0, Hutt Valley 7 Counties Manukau-Waikato 0, Japan 9 Southern Pride 0, Wellington 4 Auckland 1, Canterbury 7 Hutt Valley 0, North Harbour 4 Southern Pride 2, Japan 5 Counties Manukau-Waikato 0.

Playoffs: 1 v 2: Auckland 4 Wellington 3.

               3 v 4: North Harbour 4 Canterbury 3.

Sunday's draw: 9am: Game One: Wellington v North Harbour.

                          1pm: Grand Final: Auckland v winner of Game One.


Auckland 3 Hutt Valley 2, Counties Manukau-Waikato 1 Wellington 0, Canterbury 2 Southern Pride 1 (10 innings), Hutt Valley 7 Counties Manukau-Waikato 0, Wellington 4 Canterbury 3.

Playoffs: 1 v 2: Auckland 12 Hutt Valley 0 (4 innings).

               3 v 4: Wellington 11 Counties Manukau-Waikato 1 (4 innings).

Sunday's draw: 9am: Game One: Hutt Valley v Wellington.

                         11.30am: Grand Final: Auckland v winner of Game One.