Jesse Neumann has been consistent with the bat for Giants. PHOTOS/FILE

SOFTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Giants are not only playing for pride today but for family bragging rights in their last Intercity premier two championship game against Hutt Valley Marist at South Park.

Both teams have no chance of qualifying for the semifinals, with Giants having had one win and Marist none.

However, there is a close connection between the two clubs, and if it wasn’t for Giants’ generosity, Marist would not have been able to field a side in the competition.

The Masterton-based club loaned three players — Tarquin Karaitiana, Chris Cox, and Tristan Hillock to Hutt Valley Marist to save that team from folding.

Giants president and team member Chris Feary felt that the close link adds a bit more spice to the contest.

“The guys are looking forward to it, and we will be putting out a pretty competitive team,” he said.

“Hopefully, we will have ‘Chunky’ [Justin Karaitiana] back, and I’m pretty sure he will be, because his boy Tarquin plays for Marist.

“Whether he pitches or not is a different story because I don’t know if he has recovered from his Achilles injury.”

If Karaitiana doesn’t take the mound, the pitching duties will fall to veteran Tony Nixon, with Feary as backup.

Giants will field a powerful batting lineup, with the likes of Gordon Wilmshurst, Terry Waitere, Willy Waitere, and Karaitiana capable of putting the ball over the fence, while Niko Broughton and Jesse Neumann are others to have shown consistency with the bat.

The first pitch will be thrown at 3.30pm.

Renee England … reportedly available for home games.

In the early game at South Park, Giants Blue will look to bounce back from their horror 17-3 loss to Wainui in the Hutt Valley Major B women’s top four championship last weekend.

On that occasion, the Blues were without regular starting pitcher Renee England, who has moved out of the region. However, Feary understood she would return for home games and the playoffs.

Today’s opponents Totara Park Gold are unbeaten but are an unknown quantity as the two teams have not met this season.

The outcome will give the winners a psychological advantage, with Feary confirming that the four teams will play another full round after today’s games before the semifinals.

Giants Red can secure their second win of the women’s bottom four championship over the winless Demons at South Park.

The Under-15s can strengthen their semifinal claims if they can beat Te Aroha at South Park.



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