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Giants accentuate youth

Riley Hanson is one of the promising youngsters in the Giants Prem Three side. PHOTOS/FILE

SOFTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

A young, new-look Giants team will take to the diamond in the Intercity premier three championship, which starts on Saturday.

The team, coached by club stalwart Justin ‘Chunky’ Karaitiana, features players who have stepped out of their Under-15 sides of recent years, complemented by the experienced heads of Nico Broughton and Chris Cox, who returns to the club after playing for Hutt Valley Marist last season.

Riley Hanson, Jesse Neumann, and Trey Feary are some of the young players who had a taste of premier three competition last season, and Rico Hillman has immense potential, having represented Hutt Valley at age-group level.

Jesse Neumann was one of the finds of the 2020-21 season for Giants.

“They’ve got a good little team, and they will be a team to be reckoned with once they have this season under their belts,” Giants president Chris Feary said.

“They are a well-grounded team. Most of them played in the Under-15 finals last year, and quite a few have played age-grade reps. It will take from now until Christmas to find their feet, and I think they’re going to be real contenders after that.”

The club had planned to enter two teams in the premier three grade, but Intercity Softball rejected that.

The Giants’ second team instead will play in the Hutt Valley Presidents Grade. To the club’s annoyance, both teams will play in grades with an odd number of teams, meaning byes throughout the season, while the Presidents grade team face a return to the prospect of visiting teams defaulting.

“If we had made the premier three grade as well, we could’ve taken on some of those kids, and both teams would’ve had manageable numbers, and everybody would have had really good game time through the season,” said Feary, who will turn out for the Presidents side.

“Premier three is a way better grade for our club as a whole because there hasn’t been a default for probably two years. Nobody is going to be surprised if Giants’ Pressies are defaulted at South Park

“But that’s not to be, and we always look at the positive side of things – it will be good, a season of no stealing and no bunting, which are not permitted in Pressies [grade].”

One player missing for the Giants top side will be the promising Tarquin Karaitiana, ‘Chunky’s son, who will play for Hutt Valley Marist in the Intercity premier ones.

The club will also field a team in the Hutt Valley Major B women’s competition, and Feary predicts big things for them.

“We’ve got some really good young girls coming through, and next year, hopefully, the club will be pushing for a premier two women’s team.

“That’s been the goal for a long time now. It’s just waiting for these young girls to come through the grades and they’re now coming through and playing good softball.”

The promising Maggie Shields, a Hutt Valley representative, won’t be in the women’s squad because of her youth. The Under-15s pitcher has been attracting the attention of selectors and other clubs.

On Saturday, the premier threes start their season against Demons at Fraser Park, Lower Hutt, while the other grades will commence on October 30.

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