Chris Feary dives headlong to secure a catch watched by team-mate Gordon Wilmshurst during a match in South Park against Railways in 2016. PHOTOS/FILE

Hutt Valley teams out to end hosts’ hold on trophy

SOFTBALL

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

The Giants will be looking to extend their domination over the Kuripuni Tavern Trophy President’s grade tournament into a seventh year at Masterton’s South Park this weekend.

But club president Chris Feary, who will be playing for the Giants, says they will have to fend off strong challenges from Hut Valley teams – Railways, and the Dodgers – to achieve that.

“We’re the ones everyone wants to beat, we have some really strong guys in the team.

“Still we’ve got to watch out for the Railways and the Dodgers because at the moment we’re the top three teams [in the Hutt Valley President’s grade competition].”

The tournament will also feature Hutt Valley teams Demons, Totara Park, Cardinals and WASC, and a Giants Invitational side.

Pool matches start on Saturday with the final and placing matches on Sunday.

Player-coach Russell Kawana said the Giants had taken on Railways before Christmas and managed to win after seven innings with “one-hit”.

But he was confident that his strong batting line-up as well as home advantage will have the Giants into the final.

“We’ve got Terry [Waitere], Mark [Fricker], Matt [Kawana], Tony [Nixon] and Chris [Feary].

“Of course you never take any team for granted but we’ve had a strong run over the past couple of years.

“Put it this way, we haven’t been beaten at our fortress for the past five years.”

Tony Nixon in a Presidents softball match against the Cardinals in South Park during 2016.

Pitcher Tony Nixon’s experience playing in the United States and in Premier One and Two grades will also be an asset to the team.

“Tony’s been around for years and he’s played all these teams many times, he knows what he’s doing.”

In the President’s grade, players must be 35 years and over and it’s not uncommon to see some players in their 60s.

Kawana said the teams had a lot of former Premier One and Two players in their ranks and expected a good crowd to watch the “old guys”.

“If the weather’s good then everyone comes out and it’s really nice under the trees there.”

Giants Club founder Allan Clarke was president when the tournament started 17 years ago.

“There used to be one in the Hutt Valley at Totora Park, but one year they cancelled it. We decided that there should be a tournament in the lower North Island on anniversary weekend.

“It’s been a very successful tournament since, and is now the only one played in Wairarapa,” Clarke said.

The size of South Park meant only eight teams could play in the tournament, and for several years there was a waiting list for teams to get into the competition.

Matches will start at 10am on Saturday and from 9.30am on Sunday with the final played at 3.30pm.

Giants team: Tony Nixon, Mark Fricker, Russell Kawana, Daniel Ranger, Chris Feary, Terry Waitere, Matt Kawana, Willie Waitere, Robbie Bull. Reserves: Brett Lawrence, Karl Waata, Bryan Hourigan.

Teams

Section 1: Giants, Demons, Totara Park, Cardinals.

Section 2: Dodgers, WASC, Railways, Giants Invitational.