Nelson softballer Matt Lowe had a whole year to think about the game that got away.
Matt was the only surviving player from the 2018 U17 Development Sox side which finished second in Australia.
However, he avenged the loss in style in July as he captained the side to victory at the U17 international friendship series and was named best batter of the tournament.
It all came down to the final innings of the final against Queensland with New Zealand eventually winning 6-3.
“Being able to lead them to a title was very special,” says Matt.
The 15-year-old was in top form, hitting two home runs and setting up seven other runs for his team, known as RBIs.
He says the win was made all the sweeter after falling short the year before.
However, the match could be his last for a while as the young star will have to sit out the start of the forthcoming season after breaking his foot playing rugby.
Matt first damaged his foot during an innocuous training drill for the Nelson College under 15s but was unaware of the extent of the injury.
“I didn’t think it was broken, I just thought it was a joint issue.”
It was two weeks later when playing the first game at a tournament in Christchurch that he heard a ‘crack’.
“It was the first minutes of the game, I tackled a big guy and my foot landed awkwardly.”
However, the stubborn number 8 soldiered on and finished the game.
After removing his boot, seeing the bruising and struggling to walk, he was taken to hospital and told he had a stress fracture.
He says he will miss out on first half of the softball season as he undergoes rehabilitation.
However, he says the injury will not stop him continuing to play both sports.
Matt started playing softball as an eight-year-old at Clifton Terrace School.
His first foray into the national setup involved a nervy wait for a phone call he thought may not come.
“They had my number wrong so couldn’t get hold of me, I waited a week, but they said they would be contacting us within two days.”
As days went by, Matt began to doubt the selection by says he knew he did everything he could.
However, the call eventually came and signaled the start of a very promising career as Matt aims to follow his brother Nick’s footsteps into the Junior Black Sox and beyond.