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Tairawhiti under-18 men’s softball team ‘got better with competition’ in Palmy North: Coach

HIS team took time to find their feet but Ray Noble, coach of the Tairawhiti under-18 men's softball team, is delighted with the way they improved during a national tournament in Palmerston North.

Noble said they were at their best on the four-day tournament's final day, Sunday.

Tairawhiti lost their pool matches on the first three days but finished up with a 6-2 victory over Waikato and then a commanding 16-5 win against South Canterbury.

“The pleasing thing was the gradual improvement through the tournament,” Noble said.

The margins between getting it right and missing the mark were small.

Tairawhiti were up by four runs against Counties-Manukau during pool play but their lead disappeared in one innings and they ended up losing 9-8.

They lost 8-1 to eventual champions Hutt Valley.

Noble said Waikato played mind games with some trash talk but Tairawhiti kept their focus.

“I'm proud of their composure and their resilience.”

They finished the tournament on a high, dismantling South Canterbury.

“Corey Boocock was outstanding with the bat and Brooklyn Owen was great in the field,” Noble said.

“Rikki Noble was safe on Base 1 and Cayleb Kingi showed courage at Base 3, fielding close to the bat.

“I was stoked with the infield. They kept us in a lot of games.”

Catcher Chleo Reihana-Davis was sound in his defensive duties and batted well.

Noble said Brandie Reihana and Owen were solid middle fielders.

The outfielding, initially patchy, improved.

“After our first day, we didn't leave too many plays out there.”

Noble said Gisborne's isolation was a hindrance to the Tairawhiti team's preparation. Other sides benefited from their players having more experience in playing harder games more consistently.

Getting games outside the region and going away to tournaments was costly for Tairawhiti.

The players made strides in their development, he said.

“As a coach, I'm proud of the effort.”

Tairawhiti teams tended to start slowly in tournaments, adjust and become among the better performers by the end, he said.

“That was probably the case here.”

Tairawhiti sent u15 boys' and girls' teams to national tournaments this month.

The u15 boys were winless at Te Atiawa Park in Paraparaumu.

The u15 girls travelled to Christchurch and played at Mizuno Ballpark.

They struggled in pool play but had a 9-1 win against Waikato and won their final match, against Hawke's Bay, 8-7.

tairawhiti talent: The Tairawhiti under-18 men's softball team played in a national tournament at Palmerston North. Standing (from left): David Egan, Stormy Gardiner, Tupuhi Gardiner, Rikki Noble, Hayden Perriam, Ray Noble (coach), Adam Nepe, Corey Boocock, Grant Boocock (manager). Kneeling: TK Reihana, Chleo Reihana-Davis, Cayleb Kingi, Brooklyn Owen, Jesse Hohepa-O'Keefe, Liam Egan. Sitting: Brandie Reihana.Picture by Sue McVey