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Giants get smart

Playing smart softball will be crucial to Giants Blues’ prospects in tomorrow’s finals day in the Hutt Valley Premier Reserve-Premier Two Championship at Fraser Park, Lower Hutt.

The Blues, who are top qualifiers, play Hutt Valley Marist in one semifinal at 1pm, with the victors to progress to the final against the winners of the Tōtara Park – Hutt City United semifinal at 3.30pm.

With the potential of two tough games, Giants spokesman Chris Feary said being smart with how they approach the day is vital, and that starts with the pitching, which he believes is a catch-22 for player-coach and regular pitcher Justin ‘Chunky’ Karaitiana, who must decide whether he pitches the entire first game or shares some of the duties with the talented but inexperienced Kortez Paku.

“I think the real concern will be ‘Chunky’. He’s going to have to pitch hard in the first game, and it will come down to how much that takes out of him for the second game,” said Feary, who added that Paku had pitched well in his limited opportunities but not against teams of that calibre.

“However, sometimes those batters are used to the ball coming on to them, and varying the speed of the pitches can be a really big advantage if you take a little bit off this one and a bit more off the next one and pitch smart.”

Feary likened softball to a game of chess and reckoned it’s a matter of being smart, whether in the field or batting.

“When you’re fielding, you’re trying to get the attacking players to do something that they wouldn’t want to do or wouldn’t normally do by applying pressure, and it’s the same as when you’re batting, and you exert pressure and a throw that a guy wouldn’t normally make he might do under pressure, and that is usually when the mistakes come.

“They’re young and very quick, and if they’re not hitting, they might need to adjust and go to a short game, and nothing exerts pressure like that dirty short game.

“You start dropping good bunts, and the two corners all of a sudden are in two minds whether to be up close or back. If they’re up close and a solid shot gets hit, their chances of stopping it are less, and if they’re too far back, a good bunt will get a quick player on.”

Feary feels that it is important that the Blues don’t think too far ahead and concentrate on the tough task of beating Marist, who beat them 3–1 in the Intercity Premier Two final in December.

“They just need to go in there with a really good mindset and be really smart about how they approach this game, and if they win, then sit down and readjust once they know who is in the final and come up with a quick gameplan to get past them,” he said.

“They really need to field their top team to get through the semi, and then in the final, it’s not going to get any easier; if anything, it’s going to get harder.”

The Blues’ only loss in the new year came against Hutt City United, although the result was reversed for Hutt playing an ineligible player. Little is known about Tōtara Park after their clash was washed out, but they do boast Canadian under-19 pitcher Nicholas Neid.

The Blues are without two of their promising young players, Le Sharn Paku and Tristan Hillcock, for tomorrow’s matches.

The Giants under-13s will also wrap up their season with an away game against Dodgers Dragons at Fraser Park.

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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