Young Rolleston softballer to take a swing at World Cup qualifiers

Caitlin Henderson has been named in the Junior White Sox squad for the World Cup Oceania...
Caitlin Henderson has been named in the Junior White Sox squad for the World Cup Oceania qualifiers. Photo: Aimee Russell
Rolleston College student Caitlin Henderson has made the Junior White Sox squad to play in the under-18 women’s World Cup Oceania qualifiers in November.

The year 12 student is one of three Canterbury representatives, along with Kaiyah Ratu and McKenzie Bailey-McDowell, selected in the 15-strong squad.

The top two teams from the qualifying games will advance to the WBSC World Cup group stage tournament next year before the World Cup finals in 2025.

Henderson, 16, was selected in a wider Junior White Sox squad who travelled to Kansas City, Missouri, in June for the Top Gun tournament.

She was also part of the Canterbury under-17 team who won the national championships in January.

Junior White Sox head coach Kiri Shaw said they have been preparing for the qualifier games in Pago Pago, American Samoa, for about two years.

Caitlin Henderson. Photo: Aimee Russell
Caitlin Henderson. Photo: Aimee Russell
"Success in this tournament is massively important for our programme and for the future of talented young female softballers in New Zealand," she said.

"We gained valuable insights into our players’ performance against a level of softball rarely encountered in New Zealand (at the Kansas tournament).

"This exposure has equipped the Junior White Sox players with the experience and confidence needed to excel  on the international stage."

Shaw, who is a former White Sox captain and Olympian, will coach the team with newly appointed assistant Carley Ratu.

The qualifiers will be played from November 5-7.

Junior White Sox squad: Clover Alapaki, Innika Hapuku-Lambert, Waimarie Tawera, Ellazay Utanga-Fletcher (Auckland), McKenzie Bailey-McDowell, Caitlin Henderson, Kaiyah Ratu (Canterbury), Iris Feng (Counties Manukau), Maysen Kurene-Iwikau, Mesha Shaw-Wallace, Aayla Toman, Rylee Watt (Hutt Valley), Charlotte Graham (North Harbour) Siobhan Bolger, Maiarangi Waipara (Wellington).