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Junior White Sox World Cup squad finalised after months of selection battles

The Junior White Sox squad who'll compete later this year at the under-18 Women's Softball World Cup has been finalised after months of opportunities to impress head coach Kiri Shaw.

Members of the Junior White Sox invitational team stand together at the Wayne Roper Memorial tournament in Auckland. Source: Supplied / Arthur Images

Shaw, a long-time member of the White Sox who also competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in softball, confirmed her final 16 who will now prepare for August's tournament in Peru.

Shaw said narrowing it down to the 16 named was a "lengthy but thorough selection process".

Before naming her final squad, Shaw took invitation teams to multiple top-grade tournament's to compete against some of the New Zealand's top club teams and also carried a squad to the open-grade National Fastpitch Championships in Hutt Valley last week to face some of the country's best players. 

"The opportunity for squad members to play in a number of tournaments where they have been exposed to a higher level of play and compete against more experienced women has been an invaluable exercise.

"Sitting alongside these tournaments and just as important were observations made at under-18 nationals [in January]."

Shaw said she was impressed with attitudes of all those involved in the process who were "sponges" and open to learning.

"This was an extremely tough team to select. But it was a good problem to have. Consistency, versatility, attitude and improvement were the basis of our final 16 women roster for the World Cup."

Shaw has selected four pitchers for the tournament in Lima with Hutt Valley's Hineawe Crawford and Canterbury's Cherie Inwood making the cut after battling against each other in this year's Under-18s nationals final.

Junior White Sox pitcher Cherie Inwood. Source: Supplied / Arthur Images

Joining them is Aroha Munroe from South Australia and leftie Megan Sneddon from Auckland.

Rounding out the battery will be catchers Kiara Taimai from Auckland and Hutt Valley's Kimihia Tangianau.

Shaw has opted for a six-four split in her infield-outfield selections although multiple players have the ability to transition between both.

Caitlyn Lewin, who recently returned from playing with the senior White Sox squad at the Australia Pacific Cup earlier this month, leads the infield where she is joined by fellow Hutt Valley player Lace Tangianau.

Junior White Sox shortstop Caitlyn Lewin attempts to make a play. Source: Supplied / Arthur Images

Joining them are Auckland's Maddison Gerbes, Cantabrian Alyssa Lory, sole Counties Manukau representative Lily Neilson and Beyonce Rehutai of Wellington.

In the outfield, two more Aucklanders and a pair of Hutt Valley representatives round out the squad with Mikayla Cross, Beth Reid, Maarire Puketapu and Kiri Winiata-Enoka selected.

"For those not named in the final 16, we applaud your attitude and your performances," Shaw said.

"Whilst you might be highly disappointed, many great softballers have had stellar careers after overcoming a disappointment like this."

The squad will come together after next month's Open Club Nationals tournament in Auckland.

Junior White Sox World Cup squad

Pitchers
Hineawe Crawford (Hutt Valley)
Cherie Inwood (Canterbury)
Aroha Munroe (South Australia)
Megan Sneddon (Auckland)

Catchers
Kiara Taimai (Auckland)
Kimihia Tangianau (Hutt Valley) 

Infield
Maddison Gerbes (Auckland)
Caitlyn Lewin (Hutt Valley)
Alyssa Lory (Canterbury)
Lily Neilsen (Counties Manukau)
Beyonce Rehutai (Wellington)
Lace Tangianau (Hutt Valley)

Outfield
Mikayla Cross (Auckland)
Maarire Puketapu (Hutt Valley)
Beth Reid (Auckland)
Kiri Winiata-Enoka (Hutt Valley)

Non Travelling Reserves
Shyann Wairau (Wellington)
Chloe Rayner (USA)
Shyah Hale (Auckland)
Stella Jorgenson (Canterbury)
Erenora Hetet-Hauwaho (Hutt Valley)
Manaia Makiri (Canterbury)