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Tourney likely to be back


AN Easter softball tournament looks as if it will be back next year, bigger and even better, following the success of the inaugural event.

The tournament was held over two days at Waikirikiri Park, using the “skin” diamond and three grass diamonds marked up for the event.

Two Hawke’s Bay teams, Fast Pitch Sliders and Flaxmere College, joined six Tairawhiti teams in two divisions of competition held across Saturday and Sunday.

Held to support the newly formed Young Gunnz club and showcase the progress made, the tournament generated a lot of outside interest, team manager Leesa Kingi said.

Teams from Hamilton and Wellington, along with more teams from Hastings, had already inquired about a repeat next year.

“It was an amazing tournament,” Kingi said.

“We had a lot of comments about how good — and how much fun — it was.

“I am amazed and happy that our teams got into the A and B grade finals.

“I think we might have to run it next year so we win both finals.”

Tairawhiti team Spartans beat Young Gunnz 5-2 in the A Grade final and Flaxmere College beat Young Gunnz Part 2 15-12 in the B Grade decider.

Two subsidiary finals were also held.

In the A Grade Gizzy Fast 45 final, Fast Pitch Sliders beat Gisborne Girls’ High School 8-4. In the B Grade version, Whatever — a team of “seasoned” players — beat United Bulldogs 9-8.

“Fast 45 is a brand-new softball game that is fast and energetic,” Kingi said.

The change to “Gizzy rules” dialled down the energetic component, she said.

“We just had a runner on one for the first innings, a runner on two for the second and a runner on three for the third.”

The teams were mixed — male and female — and she expected that to continue for future editions.

“In Gisborne we can’t have competitions for just men’s or women’s teams because we don’t have enough players,” Kingi said.

“For the tournament we had mixed competitions for A and B grades so we got more teams taking part, and I think it will carry on that way.

“It’s one of two tournaments that are totally mixed.

“The teams — particularly in the A Grade — took the games seriously, but it was a lot of fun.”

It was a return to the days where players turned up and played as hard as they could, but still had fun, she said.

With eight teams, each made up of 14 players, plus coaches, managers and supporters, Waikirikiri Park was buzzing for the two days.

The Young Gunnz teams for the tournament were split according to experience, Kingi said.

Ages ranged from 11 to 14 in the B Grade team and from 17 to “early 30s” in the A Grade side.

While the teams were mixed for local competition and this tournament, they would be separated into male and female teams for outside tournaments.

Jana Hihi and Yuko Beattie would coach the female team, while Xayvier Kingi, Rongo Rapaea and Jayde Hikitapua-Wilson would coach the male team. Leesa Kingi would be manager of both.

“We are looking at going to the Kingswood Classic in Palmerston North at Labour Weekend,” Leesa Kingi said.

“It has men’s and women’s sections.

“We also want to compete at the ISA Classic in Hastings in December. That’s a men’s tournament, so we’re looking at a Kapiti Coast tournament for the women around the same time.”

With the Kingswood Classic being held before the usual start date for local softball, players would train in winter — probably once a week — to be ready for tournament action without a lead-up in club competition.

ALL LINED UP: Fast Pitch Sliders catcher Craig Wilson focuses on the ball, as do umpire Tom Kingi and Young Gunnz batter Puhi Rapaea in the Easter softball tournament held at Waikirikiri Park at the weekend. Young Gunnz lost the A Grade final to Spartans, while Sliders won the subsidiary final against Gisborne Girls’ High School in what organiser Leesa Kingi described as an “amazing tournament” likely to be repeated next year. Picture by Paul Rickard