Coach confident softball team will do well

'My expectation for the team is that they play with intent, effort and confidence'

'My expectation for the team is that they play with intent, effort and confidence'

PRIDE OF TAIRAWHITI: The North Island under-15 softball tournament will be contested at Waikirikiri Park from tomorrow to Sunday. The Tairawhiti team members taking part in the tournament are, back (from left): Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe, Corey Boocock, Brandie Reihana, Tane Ruru, Brooklyn Kingi, Cayleb Kingi, Alec Coutts and Treyson Hikitapu-Wilson. Kneeling: Minahera Mauheni, Oscar Ruston and Rikki Noble. Sitting: Uenuku Kohatu, Adam Simpson and Chleo Reihana-Davis. See story back page. Picture supplied
SWINGING INTO IT: Tairawhiti under-15 softballer Alec Coutts will get the opportunity to back up solid recent form with the bat when he competes in the North Island u15 tournament at Waikirikiri Park in Gisborne this week. Picture by Liam Clayton

TAIRAWHITI under-15 softball coach Ray Noble is confident the team can do well in the North Island u15 tournament, which starts in Gisborne tomorrow and finishes on Sunday.

“The boys have put in a lot of good work over the past 10 weeks,” said Noble, who co-coaches the team with Shane Wilson.

“They trained right through the Christmas break and have had a number of games against our under-17 team, local senior players and three Hawke’s Bay teams in preparation for this tournament.

“My expectation for the team is that they play with intent, effort and confidence — show a real intent to compete, make the extra effort on every play, and have the confidence of knowing they can do this because they have done the work.

“If they achieve these goals then I think they will do their families, the local softball community and the region proud.”

Noble will be without one of his star players, Adam Nepe, who broke his arm in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s unfortunate Adam will miss this tournament but it’s galvanised our whole team and made them appreciate what a special opportunity they have to play on the national stage in front of their friends and family.

“We’ve a young team, with all but four players eligible to play u15s next year.

“Despite their youth, they’re an experienced group who I feel can be competitive against anyone at the tournament.

“We’ve worked really hard on executing fundamentals under pressure, keeping concentration throughout the game and making good decisions quickly.

“To play well we will need to excel in those three areas, especially considering the strong teams in our section — Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Hutt Valley.”

To qualify for the playoffs on Saturday, Tairawhiti — who start their campaign with a game against Manawatu at 9am tomorrow — need to finish in the top three in their section.

“There are 11 teams in two sections — five in ours and six in the other pool,” Noble said.

“After round-robin play, the top three teams in each section will advance into major playoffs. The remaining teams from each section will form a separate group with a round-robin series deciding final placings.”

Noble said that as tournament hosts, Tairawhiti had more pressure to perform.

“But I think it gives us a competitive advantage also,” he said.

“Being able to sleep in your own bed, having home-town support, the familiar playing surroundings, the hot weather and the physical reminder every day of the region we represent will provide a comfortable and relaxed environment for the boys to play their best.

“We will rely heavily on our pitchers — Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe, Treyson Hikitapu-Wilson and Brandie Reihana — to be consistent enough to keep us in games. Then it’s up to the solid infield of Uenuku Kohatu, Rikki Noble, Adam Simpson, Corey Boocock and Brooklyn Kingi to back them up.

“Chleo Reihana-Davis and Alec Coutts have done the damage with the bat lately, but we will need one of our outfielders — Minahera Mauheni, Oscar Ruston or Cayleb Kingi — to step up offensively to compensate for the loss of Adam.”

TAIRAWHITI under-15 softball coach Ray Noble is confident the team can do well in the North Island u15 tournament, which starts in Gisborne tomorrow and finishes on Sunday.

“The boys have put in a lot of good work over the past 10 weeks,” said Noble, who co-coaches the team with Shane Wilson.

“They trained right through the Christmas break and have had a number of games against our under-17 team, local senior players and three Hawke’s Bay teams in preparation for this tournament.

“My expectation for the team is that they play with intent, effort and confidence — show a real intent to compete, make the extra effort on every play, and have the confidence of knowing they can do this because they have done the work.

“If they achieve these goals then I think they will do their families, the local softball community and the region proud.”

Noble will be without one of his star players, Adam Nepe, who broke his arm in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s unfortunate Adam will miss this tournament but it’s galvanised our whole team and made them appreciate what a special opportunity they have to play on the national stage in front of their friends and family.

“We’ve a young team, with all but four players eligible to play u15s next year.

“Despite their youth, they’re an experienced group who I feel can be competitive against anyone at the tournament.

“We’ve worked really hard on executing fundamentals under pressure, keeping concentration throughout the game and making good decisions quickly.

“To play well we will need to excel in those three areas, especially considering the strong teams in our section — Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Hutt Valley.”

To qualify for the playoffs on Saturday, Tairawhiti — who start their campaign with a game against Manawatu at 9am tomorrow — need to finish in the top three in their section.

“There are 11 teams in two sections — five in ours and six in the other pool,” Noble said.

“After round-robin play, the top three teams in each section will advance into major playoffs. The remaining teams from each section will form a separate group with a round-robin series deciding final placings.”

Noble said that as tournament hosts, Tairawhiti had more pressure to perform.

“But I think it gives us a competitive advantage also,” he said.

“Being able to sleep in your own bed, having home-town support, the familiar playing surroundings, the hot weather and the physical reminder every day of the region we represent will provide a comfortable and relaxed environment for the boys to play their best.

“We will rely heavily on our pitchers — Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe, Treyson Hikitapu-Wilson and Brandie Reihana — to be consistent enough to keep us in games. Then it’s up to the solid infield of Uenuku Kohatu, Rikki Noble, Adam Simpson, Corey Boocock and Brooklyn Kingi to back them up.

“Chleo Reihana-Davis and Alec Coutts have done the damage with the bat lately, but we will need one of our outfielders — Minahera Mauheni, Oscar Ruston or Cayleb Kingi — to step up offensively to compensate for the loss of Adam.”

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