Slo-Pitch softball made its way to Nelson over the weekend, all in the name of fun and to remember a local stalwart of the game.
Murray Williams played softball for Royals and the United Pirates during his time in Nelson. He died last year after a battle with cancer and good friend Don Glenin says he told him before he died that he would organise a tournament in his name.
“Murray thought that would be pretty cool so we started putting it together.”
Don decided to make it a “Slo-Pitch” tournament, which means pitchers can’t wind their arm around and have to lob the ball above head height before it drops to the batsman.
Don says it was a great day.
“Everybody enjoyed it from the first pitch. Amazing day, weather was good, people were poking fun at each other, it was great.”
Eight teams took part in the tournament, including one from the West Coast and another made up of family and friends of Murray.
“Murray’s widow Barbara pitched the first ball to start the tournament and it was quite emotional,” says Don.
Barbara played for the Williams family team with her grandson Alex acting as her designated runner. “Barbara was very emotional at the prize-giving afterwards. It was a great day for everyone who knew Murray,” he says.
Don says Murray was a giant of a man who loved his softball, as a young athlete in the North Island he won several athletics records and trained with Olympic middle distance champion Peter Snell.
On the pitch, the final was played between the Overs and Unders and Double Jays.
The scored were tied 10-10 after the allotted five innings so an extra inning was added which the Overs and Unders took advantage of, scoring five runs and retiring the Double Jays without scoring.
Don says the tournament will “definitely” be back next year and he credited Nicky Mason with ensuring the tournament ran smoothly.