Great play in store at memorial tournaments

Omicron will not stop the memories of two special people being honoured with some top-class softball action in Dunedin this weekend.

The Aran Bailey (men’s) and Ima Hodges (women’s) tournaments are being played as part of the annual Otago softball invitational at Hancock Park.

"We’re very excited about this tournament," Otago Softball Association operations manager Stacey Wardell said yesterday.

"The memorial idea came in last year.

"We thought, you know what, we’ve got some pretty special people we could dedicate this tournament to, so that’s what we did."

Bailey, who died in 2017, was a beloved figure in Otago softball circles, serving in almost every possible role including Otago chairman and coach.

Hodges was a legendary figure in the sport, a life member and long-serving scorer who died in 2012.

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments this weekend have attracted strong fields and will feature some classy softballers.

Dunedin, Invercargill and Christchurch teams will gather at the diamond for two days of action culminating in finals on Sunday afternoon.

Fittingly, as "Buddha" Bailey was a legend of the club, Dodgers will field a team in the men’s draw.

"The Watts brothers have pulled the team together," Wardell said.

"It’s very fitting, as Aran had a lot to do with Dodgers. It’s exciting to see them back together."

Sport can continue with restrictions under the Red light setting, and Wardell said Otago softball had been meticulous in its preparation.

Hancock Park is a public area, but organisers can control everything to do with the softball tournament.

"We will be controlling the participants and people there to watch the softball.

"There will be security around the grounds. We have a huge volunteer base, and the teams are very supportive of all measures in place."

Vaccine passports will be required, and the grounds will have roped-off areas for spectators and for teams warming up, as well as rules on how people can move around the venue.

"We know we’ve got everything possible done to be as safe as we can," Wardell said.

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