Leading White Sox pitcher preparing for softball world championships - by playing for Australia

New Zealand White Sox pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart is taking a unique approach to preparing for this year's world championships - by playing for Australia.

Stewart has teamed up with the Aussie Spirit to play in the National Pro Fastpitch league - the only professional softball tournament in the US.

Softball Australia announced earlier this year they were sending a 26-strong squad to the US to use the competition to prepare for this year's world championships after negotiating an agreement with tournament organisers to act as an expansion team.

However, they've also managed to rope in one of New Zealand's best talents, inviting Stewart to their bullpen with the Kiwi based in the States as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin - the same university she played for during her college career.

"I got an email from coach for the NZ national team saying there was an opportunity to play to get me prepared for worlds," Stewart said.

"We made a couple of phone calls, I went to work, left work, I had flights that were booked, I flew out this morning and here I am."

Taylor-Paige Stewart on the mound against Italy at the 2016 Softball World Championships.
White Sox pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart on the mound against Italy at the 2016 Softball World Championships. Source: Softball New Zealand

Stewart flew out to join the team on Wednesday but was thrust straight into the action with the Aussie Spirit playing the Beijing Eagles in Missouri that day.

"We got to the hotel at four, I got my uniforms and we were leaving by five.

"I met everybody in the span of a couple of minutes."

Stewart played a relief role for the Aussies that evening, pitching three innings and allowing just one unearned run on three hits.

She had one strikeout and no walks in her appearance but it wasn't enough as the Eagles took a 5-1 win.

Softball New Zealand manager Glen Roff says the unique opportunity is one Stewart will grasp with both hands.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for Taylor and one that will serve her well and the White Sox (if selected in the final team) in preparation for the Canada Cup and World Championships," he said.

"The fact Australia invited Taylor into their squad highlights the strong relationship between the Australian Head Coach Fabian Barlow and the White Sox Coach Kevin Gettins."

Should Stewart be selected in Gettins' World Championship squad, she will join up with the rest of the team in for the tournament in Japan in August.



Watch: Photographer under fire for making sleazy comment towards female UFC fighter during shoot

A UFC photographer has come under fire on social media for comments he made during a recent photo shoot with a female fighter.

Mike Roach instructed Tatiana Suarez on how to pose during the shoot, at one point telling her to cross her arms and keep her fists down.

"That way we can still see UFC, can still see your assets a little bit."

The comment was met with mixed reactions online where some believed Roach was talking about the 27-year-old's breasts being her assets while others say he was talking about her muscles.

"Wow ... Can't believe that was said aloud," one user wrote.

"Misogyny thinly disguised as a UFC photographer," wrote another.

But fellow photographers were quick to jump to Roach's defence, saying he handled himself with professionalism.

"The photographer is doing his job pretty well, he gives her direction so her muscles (assets) show and makes sure the UFC logo is there, don’t accuse this guy, when to me it seems like a very good job," one Twitter use said.

"As a fellow photographer we instruct our subjects very carefully. This guy is a gentleman, soft-spoken and professional. He knows & does his job very well."

Suarez has yet to comment on the situation.

After the shoot, she went on to beat Alexa Frasso at UFC Chile last weekend to improve to 6-0 as a strawweight fighter.


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Watch: It’s on! Sin-binned NHL stars leave penalty box to continue wild fist-fight during Stanley Cup playoff match

Two NHL players seemed to forget what was on the line during today's game seven of the Eastern Conference finals after they decided to go toe-to-toe on the ice rink even after they were sin-binned for fighting earlier.

Washington Capitals' Tom Wilson and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn got into an altercation after the Lightning made a save in the first period of the loser-goes-home match, leading to Wilson being restrained by a referee.

They both went to the penalty box for two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, but it didn't last long.

Wilson left the box, challenging Coburn to continue their confrontation and Coburn obliged.

The gloves came off and so did the helmets as the pair traded blows until they both ended up on the ground, restrained by refs.

The Capitals ended up winning the game 4-0 to meet the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals.


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