Local softballers make NZ team

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A softballing combination that formed at primary school has taken another step towards top honours after Josh Kelly and Caleb Delany were selected for the New Zealand Emerging Sox team.

The two year 12 Waimea College students first started playing softball together, with Josh pitching and Caleb catching, as 10 year olds at Brightwater School. Josh and Caleb have made significant progress over the  last six seasons and this month were named in the Emerging Sox to play in the Friendship Games in Sydney in June and July.

Josh and Caleb had already been selected for national age group teams before playing their way into the Emerging Sox team after a series of top performances for Upper South Island at the national under-17 tournament in Christchurch.  USI defeated softball giants Hutt Valley, Waikato, North Harbour and Auckland on their way to third-place with Josh and Caleb making the tournament team and Josh being named top pitcher.

“We started back at Brightwater and that’s definitely helped our combination,” Caleb says. “Now we think the same – I know exactly what Josh is going to do and he knows my pattern.”

Caleb says they have also benefitted from some top coaching from legendary Black Sox pitcher Marty Grant and Josh’s father Nigel who coached the USI team. Marty’s knowledge and experience has helped fine-tune their combination and Caleb says they will be working with Marty again as they prepare for  the Friendship Games.

Although it will be a challenge training through the winter to prepare for the games, Josh says having Caleb as a training partner will make it easier. The only disappointment for Josh is that he will not be able to play rugby until he gets back from Sydney because he doesn’t want to risk getting injured.

“We are lucky that we are both in the team because pitchers and catchers train together,” he says. “It would be a lot harder on your own.”

Nigel says Josh and Caleb deserved their selection after being the outstanding pitcher-catcher combination at the under-nationals.

“It’s not often that the third-placed team gets a pitcher and catcher in the tournament team,” Nigel says. “But they were by far and away the best combination at the tournament.

“Josh was top pitcher at the tournament and Caleb is getting better all the time. He is tall and strong and has been in the top of the MVP rankings for the last two or three tournaments.”

The selection of Josh and Caleb in the Emerging Sox caps a great season for Nelson softball which has its premier men’s club finals next weekend.