Team tested to the utmost

Guts, passion and commitment to the fore

Guts, passion and commitment to the fore

PRIDE IN PERFORMANCE: The Tairawhiti under-15 softball team had some outstanding results at the North Island championships. They are, standing (from left): Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson, manager Grant Boocock, Chleo Reihana-Davis, assistant coach Shane Wilson, Brandie Reihana, assistant coach Roy Timoti, Corey Boocock, coach Ray Noble and Hamish Long. Kneeling: Rikki Noble, Adam Simpson, Cassidy Brown, Uenuku Kohatu and Tupuhi Gardner. Picture by Louise Simpson

TAIRAWHITI under-15 boys overcame injury problems to finish sixth of 14 teams at the North Island softball championships in Wellington this month.

A pre-tournament injury to Tairawhiti’s star pitcher, batter and fielder, New Zealand representative Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson, meant he couldn’t play in the tournament.

This meant the coaches had to make adjustments to cover his absence, while keeping the remaining nine players fit and well.

The coaches were worried that one more injury could end Tairawhiti’s tournament, but the team made it through unscathed.

The tournament started with a fiery match against provincial rivals Hawke’s Bay.

Both teams performed haka, and Hawke’s Bay tried to unsettle Tairawhiti with verbal jousting during the game.

“They haven’t beaten us for four years, although each game has been extremely close,” Tairawhiti coach Ray Noble said.

“They wanted this game real bad and tried to unsettle us mentally. It backfired big time as it made our boys more determined, while Hawke’s Bay crumbled under the pressure they put on themselves.”

Tairawhiti cruised to a comfortable 10-3 victory.

Captain Corey Boocock and Hamish Long powered the Tairawhiti offence with two home runs each, while left-handed pitcher Brandie Reihana had the Hawke’s Bay batters on lockdown.

Next up were Whanganui, who put up little resistance as Tairawhiti eased to victory 16-3 on the back of a strong batting performance led by first baseman Rikki Noble and right outfielder Tupuhi Gardner.

Tairawhiti pitcher Cassidy Brown was in the zone, while the defence played error-free softball.

After a great first day, Tairawhiti came crashing back down to earth. They were outplayed in all phases by a strong Hutt Valley team, and lost 11-0. Hutt Valley pitcher Dallas Clifton had the best pitching statistics for the tournament.

Comprehensive win

Tairawhiti picked themselves up and comprehensively beat a young Wellington Development side 10-0. Catcher Adam Simpson called a great game behind the plate which backed up a strong batting performance by Uenuku Kohatu, Chleo Reihana-Davis and Brandie Reihana.

Clutch hitting was the order of the day against a fired-up Manawatu. Tairawhiti had only just beaten Manawatu at the central regional tournament but Manawatu fancied their chances now that Tairawhiti were without Hikitapua-Wilsons.

Chleo Reihana-Davis destroyed the Manawatu pitchers, smashing three massive triples, which meant Manawatu were always chasing the game but were never able to get in front.

Tairawhiti won an exciting game 9-8.

Noble said Cassidy Brown was the player of the game.

“Cassidy had an amazing game in centrefield, taking six crucial catches and turning a double play,” Noble said.

“With his skill and speed he is able to take catches others can’t get to. It was fitting he took the catch that ended the game.”

A star-studded Auckland team stood between Tairawhiti and a semifinal berth.

Auckland were on fire at the start, scoring two runs in the first inning. Tairawhiti responded with two runs themselves behind the batting of Reihana-Davis, Boocock and Long.

The rest of the game turned into a pitching duel. Auckland struggled against the movement of left-hander Brandie Reihana. The final score was 3-2 in favour of Auckland, and Noble blamed himself . . . for making a wrong call.

“Sometimes when you play the big boys the opportunities to score are few and far between, so when they come you feel like you have to take risks and be aggressive, and I sent someone home when I should have held them on third,” Noble said.

“Those little coaching mistakes are magnified in big games and the gamble for us obviously didn’t pay off.

“Although we didn’t get the result, it was by far our best performance of the tournament when you take into account who we were playing and what was at stake.”

Finished tournament playing Auckland Development

Tairawhiti finished the tournament playing Auckland Development in a fifth/sixth playoff.

Leading 8-2 in the last inning, Tairawhiti imploded and lost 9-8.

“A mixture of Auckland’s awesome hitting, fatigue — which caused uncharacteristic errors — and some dodgy coaching decisions enabled Auckland to gain momentum that we couldn’t halt,” Noble said.

“Although it was disappointing to end the tournament on this note, it couldn’t take away the immense pride I feel in terms of our performance across the whole tournament, especially considering our injury situation.”

Chleo Reihana-Davis was picked in the tournament team, which doubles as a New Zealand team selection, and Corey Boocock made The Rest squad — the next best 12 players.

“I am thrilled with Chleo’s selection,” Noble said.

“He finished second-best batter of the tournament, with a batting average over .700, but more impressive is how he achieves his results. He says nothing but gives everything, is tough yet humble, and is someone who always puts the team first.

“Corey is our leader. He provides the consistency offensively and defensively that our performances were built on.

“Hamish Long also surprised people in Wellington by finishing in the top 10 batters for runs batted in.”

Wellington-based Glen Roff is Softball New Zealand softball manager, a role that covers game development and marketing.

He said Tairawhiti Softball Association’s proactive approach to game development had led to success on the field.

“I watched the under-15s and they had great team unity,” he said.

“I think Ray (Noble) and his coaching staff did a fantastic job in working the boys and keeping them tight. They were very focused.

“The 3-2 loss to Auckland was staggering. Even though they lost, it was a phenomenal result and showed how far they had come.

“I was privileged to watch the 9-8 victory against Manawatu. It was a very tense game, tight all the way, and it was just a matter of guts, passion and commitment. The boys stayed with it and got the job done.

“And it was cool to see all the families, friends and supporters cheering from the sideline.”

TAIRAWHITI under-15 boys overcame injury problems to finish sixth of 14 teams at the North Island softball championships in Wellington this month.

A pre-tournament injury to Tairawhiti’s star pitcher, batter and fielder, New Zealand representative Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson, meant he couldn’t play in the tournament.

This meant the coaches had to make adjustments to cover his absence, while keeping the remaining nine players fit and well.

The coaches were worried that one more injury could end Tairawhiti’s tournament, but the team made it through unscathed.

The tournament started with a fiery match against provincial rivals Hawke’s Bay.

Both teams performed haka, and Hawke’s Bay tried to unsettle Tairawhiti with verbal jousting during the game.

“They haven’t beaten us for four years, although each game has been extremely close,” Tairawhiti coach Ray Noble said.

“They wanted this game real bad and tried to unsettle us mentally. It backfired big time as it made our boys more determined, while Hawke’s Bay crumbled under the pressure they put on themselves.”

Tairawhiti cruised to a comfortable 10-3 victory.

Captain Corey Boocock and Hamish Long powered the Tairawhiti offence with two home runs each, while left-handed pitcher Brandie Reihana had the Hawke’s Bay batters on lockdown.

Next up were Whanganui, who put up little resistance as Tairawhiti eased to victory 16-3 on the back of a strong batting performance led by first baseman Rikki Noble and right outfielder Tupuhi Gardner.

Tairawhiti pitcher Cassidy Brown was in the zone, while the defence played error-free softball.

After a great first day, Tairawhiti came crashing back down to earth. They were outplayed in all phases by a strong Hutt Valley team, and lost 11-0. Hutt Valley pitcher Dallas Clifton had the best pitching statistics for the tournament.

Comprehensive win

Tairawhiti picked themselves up and comprehensively beat a young Wellington Development side 10-0. Catcher Adam Simpson called a great game behind the plate which backed up a strong batting performance by Uenuku Kohatu, Chleo Reihana-Davis and Brandie Reihana.

Clutch hitting was the order of the day against a fired-up Manawatu. Tairawhiti had only just beaten Manawatu at the central regional tournament but Manawatu fancied their chances now that Tairawhiti were without Hikitapua-Wilsons.

Chleo Reihana-Davis destroyed the Manawatu pitchers, smashing three massive triples, which meant Manawatu were always chasing the game but were never able to get in front.

Tairawhiti won an exciting game 9-8.

Noble said Cassidy Brown was the player of the game.

“Cassidy had an amazing game in centrefield, taking six crucial catches and turning a double play,” Noble said.

“With his skill and speed he is able to take catches others can’t get to. It was fitting he took the catch that ended the game.”

A star-studded Auckland team stood between Tairawhiti and a semifinal berth.

Auckland were on fire at the start, scoring two runs in the first inning. Tairawhiti responded with two runs themselves behind the batting of Reihana-Davis, Boocock and Long.

The rest of the game turned into a pitching duel. Auckland struggled against the movement of left-hander Brandie Reihana. The final score was 3-2 in favour of Auckland, and Noble blamed himself . . . for making a wrong call.

“Sometimes when you play the big boys the opportunities to score are few and far between, so when they come you feel like you have to take risks and be aggressive, and I sent someone home when I should have held them on third,” Noble said.

“Those little coaching mistakes are magnified in big games and the gamble for us obviously didn’t pay off.

“Although we didn’t get the result, it was by far our best performance of the tournament when you take into account who we were playing and what was at stake.”

Finished tournament playing Auckland Development

Tairawhiti finished the tournament playing Auckland Development in a fifth/sixth playoff.

Leading 8-2 in the last inning, Tairawhiti imploded and lost 9-8.

“A mixture of Auckland’s awesome hitting, fatigue — which caused uncharacteristic errors — and some dodgy coaching decisions enabled Auckland to gain momentum that we couldn’t halt,” Noble said.

“Although it was disappointing to end the tournament on this note, it couldn’t take away the immense pride I feel in terms of our performance across the whole tournament, especially considering our injury situation.”

Chleo Reihana-Davis was picked in the tournament team, which doubles as a New Zealand team selection, and Corey Boocock made The Rest squad — the next best 12 players.

“I am thrilled with Chleo’s selection,” Noble said.

“He finished second-best batter of the tournament, with a batting average over .700, but more impressive is how he achieves his results. He says nothing but gives everything, is tough yet humble, and is someone who always puts the team first.

“Corey is our leader. He provides the consistency offensively and defensively that our performances were built on.

“Hamish Long also surprised people in Wellington by finishing in the top 10 batters for runs batted in.”

Wellington-based Glen Roff is Softball New Zealand softball manager, a role that covers game development and marketing.

He said Tairawhiti Softball Association’s proactive approach to game development had led to success on the field.

“I watched the under-15s and they had great team unity,” he said.

“I think Ray (Noble) and his coaching staff did a fantastic job in working the boys and keeping them tight. They were very focused.

“The 3-2 loss to Auckland was staggering. Even though they lost, it was a phenomenal result and showed how far they had come.

“I was privileged to watch the 9-8 victory against Manawatu. It was a very tense game, tight all the way, and it was just a matter of guts, passion and commitment. The boys stayed with it and got the job done.

“And it was cool to see all the families, friends and supporters cheering from the sideline.”

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