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Junior Canterbury softball team working toward Little League World Series dream

The Canterbury under-15 girls softball team has had an unforgettable few months.

Nicknamed the Baby Hawks, they won the South Island title and followed that up with victory at the national little league champs.

Their success over the summer has given them the right to be the New Zealand representative at the Asia Pacific Little League qualifier in Jakarta, Indonesia next month.

Kaiyah Ratu, the youngest of the 14 girls at 12-years-old, still remembers the moment she realised what her team had accomplished.

"After the last play, we screamed as loud as we could," the shortstop said.

"We lost our voices after that and we just ran and ran and ran - so excited."

Kaiyah has been around the game most of her life with both her parents having played for the White Sox and Black Sox, respectively.

Carley Ratu has since become the team's coach and is confident her team will deliver at the qualifiers.

"We are realistic," Ratu said.

"We have an idea we have of what we are facing in Indonesia but the girls are preparing hard and it’s in our reach to get to the World Series."

The Baby Hawks will be the first New Zealand Little League representatives after Softball New Zealand announced the new pathway last year.

The Canterbury Baby Hawks under-15 girls softball team poses after winning the national title.
The Canterbury Baby Hawks under-15 girls softball team all-smiles after winning the national title. Source: 1 NEWS

"This is a fantastic opportunity to provide an additional pathway to promote the youth game and further the development of female softball," Softball NZ manager Glen Roff told 1 NEWS at the time.

Should they win in Jakarta, the team will move on to represent the Asia Pacific region at the Little League World Series in Portland, USA where all their matches are streamed and televised by sports television network ESPN.

Catcher Brie-Ellen Harding says she’s hoping her team wins although there may be one or two selfish desires mixed in with it as well.

"If I go to America, wow, it'll be amazing and I'd get to get a new bat over there," Brie-Ellen said.

So yeah, my big goal is to go to America and I'm sure many girls can agree."

Although, their success comes at a cost. On top of training up to four times a week, they've also been putting in some hard slog to pay for the trip, fundraising $45,000 over the last three months.

Despite the applaudable efforts, there’s still a few more raffle tickets to sell to hit their $60,000 target.

But it could all be worth it, with the qualifier winner netting an all-expenses paid trip to the Little League World Series.

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The under-15 Baby Hawks have fundraised $45,000 so far to compete at next month's qualifier in Indonesia. Source: 1 NEWS