Under-18 team to play against men

STAND AND DELIVER: Tairawhiti under-18 pitcher Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe, above, and Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson will be put to the test when they compete at the national men’s softball tournament in Hastings. Picture by Paul Rickard

Tairawhiti under-18 softballers will make history this weekend when they become the first team from this region to compete in the ISA New Zealand men’s tournament in Hastings.

“This will be a fantastic opportunity for these young boys, many of whom have travelled overseas with ISA age-group teams,” organiser Craig Waterhouse said.

“We’ve got 10 teams, two pools of five, with current and former Black Sox players, playing over 30 games in two days.

“It’ll be a real test for the Tairawhiti boys but it’s all part of our and their softball development.

“I had a talk with Ray Noble (Tairawhiti coach), who has done some amazing work with softball in Tairawhiti, and he jumped at the chance.

“Even though they are a rep team, they will struggle against experienced club players, but it’s a great opportunity for them to learn and develop.

“We’re delighted Tairawhiti accepted the invitation and look forward to watching them in action.”

The top three teams from each pool will progress to the trophy section with the bottom two in each pool playing off for the plate.

Tairawhiti are in a group that includes Porirua, Island Bay, Fast Pitch Hawke’s Bay and Miramar.

Noble said it would be “an awesome experience” to play against the best.

“But as Craig said, for us it’s all about development and this is a huge development opportunity,” Noble said.

“I don’t think the top clubs are going to improve playing us, but we have the opportunity to improve significantly playing them.

“Our skill execution and ability to make decisions under pressure will be tested at the highest level.

“If we can block out the noise and get over the mental barrier of who they are, we can compete.

“The only expectations we as a management unit put on the team are that they work hard for each other, learn from their mistakes and have fun.

“If they do that, we will be a better team after the tournament than before it.

“Our big goal is the under-18 national tournament in Christchurch (from January 17 to 20). This weekend’s games are crucial in our preparation because they let us see how the top players prepare and play.

“Our players will also get valuable experience competing against good players, which will build confidence through improvement.”

Noble said the tournament would “test all facets” of the team’s game but he believed defence was an area in which they could apply pressure and keep the score down.

“If our pitchers Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe and Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson can keep the ball down and away in the strikezone, we have infielders to execute plays,” Noble said.

“Te Korewha Reihana, Corban Richter and Brooklyn Owen will be key contributors in the infield.

“Home-run hitter Adam Nepe will lead the outfield.”

TAIRAWHITI: Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe, Chleo Reihana-Davies, Reno Sidney, Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson, Te Korewha Reihana, Brandie Reihana, Brooklyn Owen, Corey Boocock, Adam Nepe, Tane Ruru, Corban Richter, Jake Noble, Rikki Noble. Coach: Ray Noble. Assistant coach: Shane Wilson. Manager: Grant Boocock.

Tairawhiti under-18 softballers will make history this weekend when they become the first team from this region to compete in the ISA New Zealand men’s tournament in Hastings.

“This will be a fantastic opportunity for these young boys, many of whom have travelled overseas with ISA age-group teams,” organiser Craig Waterhouse said.

“We’ve got 10 teams, two pools of five, with current and former Black Sox players, playing over 30 games in two days.

“It’ll be a real test for the Tairawhiti boys but it’s all part of our and their softball development.

“I had a talk with Ray Noble (Tairawhiti coach), who has done some amazing work with softball in Tairawhiti, and he jumped at the chance.

“Even though they are a rep team, they will struggle against experienced club players, but it’s a great opportunity for them to learn and develop.

“We’re delighted Tairawhiti accepted the invitation and look forward to watching them in action.”

The top three teams from each pool will progress to the trophy section with the bottom two in each pool playing off for the plate.

Tairawhiti are in a group that includes Porirua, Island Bay, Fast Pitch Hawke’s Bay and Miramar.

Noble said it would be “an awesome experience” to play against the best.

“But as Craig said, for us it’s all about development and this is a huge development opportunity,” Noble said.

“I don’t think the top clubs are going to improve playing us, but we have the opportunity to improve significantly playing them.

“Our skill execution and ability to make decisions under pressure will be tested at the highest level.

“If we can block out the noise and get over the mental barrier of who they are, we can compete.

“The only expectations we as a management unit put on the team are that they work hard for each other, learn from their mistakes and have fun.

“If they do that, we will be a better team after the tournament than before it.

“Our big goal is the under-18 national tournament in Christchurch (from January 17 to 20). This weekend’s games are crucial in our preparation because they let us see how the top players prepare and play.

“Our players will also get valuable experience competing against good players, which will build confidence through improvement.”

Noble said the tournament would “test all facets” of the team’s game but he believed defence was an area in which they could apply pressure and keep the score down.

“If our pitchers Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe and Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson can keep the ball down and away in the strikezone, we have infielders to execute plays,” Noble said.

“Te Korewha Reihana, Corban Richter and Brooklyn Owen will be key contributors in the infield.

“Home-run hitter Adam Nepe will lead the outfield.”

TAIRAWHITI: Jesse Hohepa-O’Keefe, Chleo Reihana-Davies, Reno Sidney, Treyson Hikitapua-Wilson, Te Korewha Reihana, Brandie Reihana, Brooklyn Owen, Corey Boocock, Adam Nepe, Tane Ruru, Corban Richter, Jake Noble, Rikki Noble. Coach: Ray Noble. Assistant coach: Shane Wilson. Manager: Grant Boocock.

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