The Kiwis are looking for a few good teams to play.
John Voyle, executive director of the New Zealand Softball Association, is in Salt Lake City this week setting up a U.S.-Canada tour for the New Zealand National Team.Voyle wants the team to get the best competition possible to prepare it for the 1992 World Championships in Manila.
"Because of our isolation in the South Pacific it's hard to get a lot of top-caliber teams to come play us in New Zealand," he said.
As such, he's getting commitments for a number of U.S.-Canadian games. He's already secured an entry in the Pioneer Days Softball Tournament in Salt Lake in July.
Before coming to Salt Lake the team will play in Seattle; Vancouver, British Columbia; and two cities in Alberta. After the Salt Lake tourney, the team will go to a tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
New Zealand is noted for its fastpitch softball players - "We don't play slow-pitch," Voyle says.
Boys and girls in secondary and high school play softball rather than hardball, as in the United States. That explains, Voyle says, why a number of American teams have New Zealand players on them. Utah softball stalwart Miller Toyota, for example, is led by New Zealand pitchers Peter Meredith and Brendan Keehan.
Meredith led the United States to the World Softball Championship in 1988 and another New Zealand hurler led the U.S. to the title in 1980, Voyle said. In 1984 New Zealand won the championship.
The rules have been changed since `88 so that players representing a team must be citizens of that country, as opposed to establishing residency there, which is what happened in Meredith's case, Voyle said.
According to Pioneer Days Tournament Director Ken Hackmeister, there will be a number of top-caliber U.S. teams challenging New Zealand for the Pioneer Days title. They include defending tourney champion Penn Corp. of Sioux City; last year's runner-up, Victoria, British Columbia; last year's Amateur Softball Association runner-up, Guanella Brothers of Santa Rosa, Calif.; Midland, Mich., host team for this year's ASA championships; The Farm from Madison, Wis.; and local teams Miller Toyota and Page Brake.