Nelson’s Isaac Glass swings away as the city played host to the biggest annual softball tournament in New Zealand at the weekend. Photo: Shuttersport.

‘Old timers’ impress at Evergreens

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They varied in body shape, age and skill, but the softballers at the 57th annual National Evergreens tournament showed they’re still as competitive as ever.

Saxton Field hosted more than 400 over-35 players representing 16 provinces at the weekend, the biggest annual tournament in New Zealand.

The Evergreens Tournament has been running since 1971 with Nelson hosting in 1974, 1983, 1995 and 2008.

Nelson president Alex Oliver says feedback for the two-day tournament has been fantastic.

The story of the weekend was Canterbury turning around its last place finish in 2019 to win a fiercely fought final with Wairarapa.

Alex says the weather was typically pristine and the diamond played beautifully.

“It just bounced so true, there was no deviation.”

Players ranged in age from early 40s to late 60s, with even a few 70-year-olds involved.

“It was great to see everyone just bloody enjoying themselves, it was played in a great spirit.”

Nelson, who Alex says are in a rebuilding period, finished a respectable fifth, taking defending champions Southland to the final innings before being pipped by a solitary run which would’ve seen them play off for third.

It was only the experience of former New Zealand pitcher Greg Newton that spoiled the party for the hosts.