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

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

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."

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.