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Beau-Leah Karaitiana on her way to a home run. PHOTOS/FILE

Promising softballer off to America

SOFTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

One of Wairarapa’s rising softball stars has scored a home run with her selection in a Wellington academy team to play in a series of tournaments in the United States.

Beau-Leah Karaitiana, 15, who plays for the Masterton-based Giants’ club, is one of 15 players named in the New Zealand Capital Diamond Sport’s Academy side to play in three college Under-16 softball tournaments over 19 days in California in September and October.

Women’s academy team manager Andrew Wilkinson said the intention of the tour was to expose talented Under-16s to US college scouts which could then lead to fully-funded scholarships.

“The focus is on athlete exposure and player development so scouts that don’t visit New Zealand get to see first-hand the top talent we have,” Wilkinson said.

“The athletes get to play against the best players in the world and bring back skills learned along the way to share with others to further develop women’s softball.”

Beau-Leah comes from a family steeped in softball tradition.

Corie Karaitiana.

Her father, Corie, and uncle, Justin “Chunky” Karaitiana, are longstanding members of the Giants club and have won two Hutt Valley Premier One championships with the club.

The brothers also earned representative honours, winning two national championships with Hutt Valley.

Her late grandfather, Greg, an outstanding winger for Wairarapa-Bush in their heyday of the early 1980s, was also a brilliant softballer, representing Wairarapa when the region was ranked among the strongest in the country.

The history doesn’t stop there.

Beau-Leah’s great-grandfather was a top-level player before becoming a highly-respected umpire.

Justin Karaitiana.

Beau-Leah started playing T-ball as a child and then progressed through the grades to represent the Giants Under-15 boys’ team and the Giants’ Major B women’s side in the 2018-19 season.

The Wairarapa College pupil is a versatile player and has been used at second base and in the outfield, but it is at pitcher where dad, Corie, believes her heart lies.

“She has a done a lot of work at pitching. She used to pull over the trampoline on the back lawn, draw a square on it, and practise pitching at the square for hours and hours.”

Towards the end of the last season, she became a regular pitcher for the Giants’ women’s team, often closing out matches.

Beau-Leah’s performances for the Giants’ Under-15s – she hit a home run in a tiebreaker inning to win their semifinal against Dodgers Aces – and consistent play for the women’s team has attracted the attention of some astute minds in the Hutt Valley, including New Zealand softball legends, Kiri, and Naomi Shaw.

“It’s opened a lot of doors and premier teams from over the hill are showing interest. Kiri Shaw from Saints is pretty keen to get hold of her,” Corie said.

Beau-Leah has also represented Hutt Valley at Under-15 level. She would have probably made the Under-18 squad in the past season but missed the trial due to other commitments.

Getting to the United States for the college tournaments is an expensive exercise with each player required to raise about $6000.

Beau-Leah’s mother, Alina Harrington, intends to a launch a Givealittle page as well as seek support from businesses and organisations that may be interested in contributing towards the cost of the tour.

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