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Gains and losses for Giants

Tarquin Karaitiana is one of the key batters in the Giants premier two team. PHOTOS/FILE

SOFTBALL

Giants have gained experience but lost two of the club’s most promising prospects leading into the start of the Intercity season on Saturday with a doubleheader at South Park.

‘Chunky’ Karaitiana will spearhead to pitching duties for Giants premier two team.

Veteran Blair Thompson rejoins the Masterton-based club after several successful seasons with premier one team Hutt Valley Dodgers, including winning the national club championship in 2013. Thompson brings a strong all-round game to the newly- promoted premier two team and will help coach the young side with Justin ‘Chunky’ Karaitiana.

Giants, however, have lost highly promising brother and sister Mitchell and Maggie Shields to Hutt Valley clubs. Mitchell has joined Totara Park, and 14-year-old Maggie, who looks destined to have a big future in whichever sport she decides on between softball and netball, has linked with the powerful Saints club. There she will come under the tutelage of New Zealand White Sox mother and daughter greats Naomi and Kerry Shaw and is likely to play premier one softball.

Although the departure of the Shields is a big blow to Giants, club spokesman Chris Feary said it is the best for their development.

“The club just takes pride in the fact that we’ve been able to help them through their junior softball and we can now stand back and watch their careers take off, and at these other clubs there’s obviously something there that can take them to the next steps in their careers,” Feary said.

Victory in last season’s premier three championship has had Giants’ top team promoted to premier two, and Feary predicted that they will be strong championship contenders.

Karaitiana will again fill the opening pitcher’s role, with Thompson expected to provide backup, while a strong batting line-up including talented youngsters Tohi Jelly, Rico Hillman and Tarquin Karaitiana, and the experienced Chris Cox should ensure a steady flow of runs.

The Giants premier three side is more or less the same team which won the premier three bottom section championship for 2021-22. Russell Kawana will again coach the side, which is a mixture of experience and youth.

Veterans Tony Nixon and Feary will handle the pitching duties, while the batting line-up is chockful of big hitters in Gordon Wilmshurst, Terry and Willie Waitere, and Matt Kawana and youngsters Jesse Neumann, Riley Hanson, Thomas Kawana, and Julian Ellmers, who impressed when joining the team for the second half of last season.

Feary said that having teams in the premier two and three, rather than in the same grade, could pay dividends, with players able to move up and down between the grades.

Both Giants teams have home games to kickstart their seasons. The premier two team play Hutt Valley Marist at 1pm, followed by the premier threes against Poneke-Kilbirnie at 3.30pm. Feary is confident both teams can make a winning start, and are good enough to be in championship contention at the end of the season.

Giants will also field a women’s team in the newly-formed Hutt Valley premier three competition which Feary said will benefit the club.

“That gives the young girls more of an opportunity. I believe there are a few new players and it’s looking really good for them,” he said.

However, Giants are wanting more junior players for their 13th and 15th grade teams and Feary is urging anyone interested to contact the club through Facebook or turn up for their junior registration day to be held at South Park in the next couple of weeks.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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