The Upper South Island under-19 softball team that finished fourth at the national tournament in Hastings last week.

Nelson softballers up to speed

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Nelson’s young softball talent showed they are among the best in the country when they joined forces with Marlborough to finish fourth at the national under-19 tournament at Akina Park in Hastings last week.

The Upper South Island team, which included Nelson’s Josh Kelly, Caleb Delaney, Mardi McBride, Justin Barr, Gavin Peattie, Cole James and Riley Power, won six games and lost three at the four-day tournament won by Auckland A.

Although the team was disappointed to narrowly miss out on the final, co-coach Nigel Kelly says the results show that they are competitive with all the country’s softball powerhouses.

“We won six games and only lost to the big teams by one or two runs so we showed we were good enough to make the final,” Nigel says. “It was the best result we’ve had at the tournament for quite a few years – it was good to perform so well on the national scene.

The team beat Auckland B 6-1 and Tarawhiti  8-0 on day one before beating Hutt Valley 9-1 and losing to Wellington 3-2 and Hawkes Bay 2-1 in a tie-breaker on “an extremely tough second day”.

Upper South Island beat North Harbour 5-0 and lost to Canterbury 4-2 on day three before defeating North Harbour 5-4 and Canterbury 7-6 in 10 innings in the play-offs on day four.

Nigel says the team’s pitchers, Riley and Josh, performed well with Riley ending the tournament with the top stats and Josh making the Tournament Rest Team.

First base Mardi was also outstanding  making the Tournament Team.

“The Nelson boys went very well.

“Our pitchers were fast – they were pitching at around 116 to 117 kmh which is only 10kmh or so less than the Black Sox pitchers,” Nigel says.

The next assignment for three of the team, Waimea College’s Josh, Justin and Caleb, will be the national division one secondary school’s tournament in Auckland in March.