Hutt Valley and Auckland's softball rivalry

By Eru Paranihi

Softballs biggest rivalry resumes this week at the 2018 Softball Men's Club Championships in Lower Hutt.

Members of the Auckland side that lost to Hutt Valley at this year's nationals are turning out for their clubs, with redemption on their minds.

Beating anyone from the Hutt Valley at Fraser Park is satisfying for many Auckland players, who have since moved on from losing at the national tournament.

Auckland United infielder Thomas Enoka (Ngāpuhi) says, "It was a disappointing time at that tournament, [but] you get over things pretty quickly."

"We always build ourselves up to this tournament. But the moods' good. The team's always looking strong."

With home advantage set to play a part this weekend, Hutt Valley Dodgers look likely to challenge the defending champions.

In last year final at Ballpark in Christchurch it was Auckland who ran away with a 5–3 win.

Auckland United pitcher Kallan Compain says, "They're real scrappy.  hey're a confident team and they play real hard- and they play to win."

"They've got the best pitcher in New Zealand in Nike Hayes.  A strong pitcher is always a good start, but backed up pretty solidly by a lot of good hitters," says Enoka.  

Compain is one of five Black Sox representatives in the side. Despite a slow start, he won the MVP award after a strong performance last year in Christchurch.

The 28-year-old remembers, "It was a great tournament.  I was fortunate enough to play very well.  I started the day off from memory quite terrible, but I came back strong and ended getting some good hits."

In their first match, they easily overcame Hutt City United 9-2.  Despite the win, Auckland United have plenty to work on before their next match with Christchurch club Papanui.

Enoka says, "Looking into game two, [it] will probably be tougher playing Papanui.  I would say the winner of that next game coming up will go through first [place] in our section."

With Lower Hutt's forecast set for showers, first up wins are crucial with the threat of games being postponed, or cancelled.