Great support for first event at new base

A new tournament will be Otago Softball’s first major event at its new home.

Seventeen teams will contest the South Island under-18 club championships at Hancock Park.

Otago Softball moved to the ground, the home of Pirates Rugby Club and more recently the Caversham Football Club, from Ellis Park at the start of the summer.

The tournament has come about after Softball New Zealand decided not to hold national tournaments this year, due to the flow-on effects of Covid-19.

It left the regions — North, Central and South Island — to hold their own events.

The South Island opted to move away from a representative format and open its tournament to club teams.

Otago Softball operations manager Stacey Wardell said that led to a significant rise in teams and players travelling to play.

It was giving players who may not normally get the chance to play at a tournament an opportunity to do so.

Alongside this weekend’s under-18 tournament, which has 11 boys’ and six girls’ teams, there was also an under-15 tournament in Christchurch last week.

"We wanted to move away from that selection process with our age grades," she said.

"We’ve gone with an open club format, which means club teams enter, instead of associations holding representative trials and selecting age-grade players.

"We’ve opened it up to every and any child that is age eligible and wants to go to tournament, so we aren’t having players missing out."

Volunteer Matt Thomson puts down a base at Hancock Park yesterday in the last of the preparations...
Volunteer Matt Thomson puts down a base at Hancock Park yesterday in the last of the preparations for today’s South Island under-18 club softball championships. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Teams will be coming from Canterbury, South Canterbury and Southland.

Otago would also have a Cardinals team in the under-18 grade, while four Otago girls were linking with Panthers from Invercargill.

Wardell said there would be plenty of quality throughout those teams.

She added the move to Hancock Park had been a successful one and the association had also set up two diamonds up the hill on Kettle Park.

The sand-based ground held a major advantage over its old home at Ellis Park. It meant rain would have less of an effect.

There had been some "teething issues", including moving some diamonds around. However, those were being overcome.

The tournament begins today and concludes on Sunday.

Games begin at 9am each day, while the last one is scheduled to begin at 5pm on each of the first three days.

On Sunday the finals are scheduled to begin at 1pm.


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