The best Baseball players around the country have assembled this week to participate in the New Zealand Men’s National Baseball Championship in Auckland. For many players, the tournament is a chance to gain selection for the New Zealand Diamond Blacks.
If there is ever a time that any of these hopefuls should be coming into for, now is the opportunity especially in front of national selectors and scouts. One of those hopefuls is Toa Tauranga from the Hamilton United team.
Tauranga says, “The quality of baseball and the learning side of things. Being able to experience the top quality of players and being amongst it all. Just soak it up.”
There is a lot at stake for young players such as Huriwaka Ripia, whose elder siblings also represent New Zealand. The 15-year old is an age-grade representative and was discovered five years ago.
I want to be able to start on the field one game just like improve my throwing and quick speed down the bases just improve on running and hit the ball,” says Ripia
Like many others, these two young men will be hoping to catch the eye of the selectors for the Diamond Blacks
Tauranga says, “Just stay low Field the ball and make my plays and hopefully get on base more than I was hoping for. It should be a good foot in the door.”
“I just need to keep making my way up there, keep playing hard and challenging other people,” says Ripia.
As individuals, the challenge is to make the national side. Their teams on the other hand face stiff competition from the opposition.
“We have Howick who have established a real good Baseball league coming up through the grades and also we have to Cos the defending champions from last year,: says Tauranga
The tournament runs right through to Sunday with five teams from Auckland (Howick-Pakuranga Hawks, Howick-Pakuranga Grey Hawks, Counties Baseball, North Shore City, Orewa), and one each from Waikato (Hamilton Raiders), Wellington (Porirua Bombers), and Canterbury (Christchurch Blue Sox).