Auckland, Wellington claim national titles at fastpitch softball championships

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

Dominant displays with both bat and ball have decided this year's men's and women's champions at the National Fastpitch Championship in Hutt Valley this afternoon.

Wellington hitter Reilly Makea

Auckland took out the women's championship before Wellington ended an 11-year title drought in the men's competition as both finals were wrapped up in five innings due to the mercy rule being enforced.

In the women's final, Auckland took down Canterbury 7-0 on the back of a superb pitching performance from American import Gretchen Aucoin.

Aucoin collected 10 strikeouts from the 17 batters she faced over five innings of work in the final and only allowed three hits with no walks.

Backing up Aucoin on the mound was a strong Auckland batting line-up who scored their seven runs on 11 hits while also earning three walks in the match.

In contrast to Canterbury's 10 strikeouts, Auckland only had two.

Otahuhu outfielder and former Junior White Sox player Taylor Chongnee contributed the most to Auckland's run production as she picked up three RBIs while hitting a double and a triple in the final.

White Sox Zoe Tolhopf, Tyneesha Houkamau and Mereana Makea also picked up doubles in the contest and fellow New Zealand representative Krysta Hoani added another triple.

With the win, Auckland claimed their fourth title in six years after failing to win the last two finals against Hutt Valley in 2018 and 2019.

Shortly after, Wellington put on a hitting clinic of their own against surprise opponents North Harbour in the men's final.

North Harbour earned the right to play Wellington for the title this morning after upsetting Auckland with a walk-off 5-4 win in the semi-finals.

But Wellington proved to be one step too far with the hosts claiming a 10-1 win on the back of a perfect hitting performance from Black Sox slugger Jerome Raemaki.

Raemaki went three-for-three in the final, collecting three RBIs in the match while launching a home run in the second innings.

That helped Wellington jump out to a 5-0 lead after two innings and they added a further three in third.

North Harbour outfielder Hohepa Monk gave his side a glimmer of hope with his solo shot in the bottom of the third to make the score 8-1 but pitcher Caleb Keeshig made sure that was the only run he gave up.

The Canadian import finished the game with six strikeouts for four hits given up as his side tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth innings to cement a mercy-rule victory.

The title is Wellington's first since 2009 with Auckland, Canterbury and Hutt Valley dominating the men's scene over the last decade.