Rangatahi battle it out at U18 Girls Poiuka Champs

By Aroha Mane

The country's best female rangatahi took to the diamond for the NZ U18 Girls Softball Championship that kicked off in Mt Albert in Auckland this week. Besides the championship, the NZ U18 coach was on the lookout for a team to take to the world cup in Peru this year.

Ten teams from across the country are vying for the championship title.

Kiri Shaw is the coach of the NZ U18 Softball team and is on the scout for players. She represented NZ in Softball at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and has a desire to put NZ back in the competition.

“The experience of playing softball in the Olympics is amazing for other athletes in the softball community to experience that. For these core groups of girls, these A teams, that's their prime time to step up and win the qualifier to go on to the Olympics.”

Although NZ missed out on the 2020 Olympics in Japan, they have their sights set on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, USA.

“It's all about seeing what they are doing in precious situations and there's a key game going on here. So it's always exciting and yeah we're excited about what's out there.”

Here at the championships for two teams today, Hutt Valley and Wellington, there is a natural rivalry as both are located in the same region.

“I feel like we executed a lot of things, we played hard and left it all out there. Obviously, we didn't come away with the result we wanted but hey someone has to lose and someone has to win,” Te Kōpere Rata from Wellington says.

“Oh got a bit nervous at the end, and getting a bit tight and the girls brought it back. It was a good job all round and Wellington back with a fight, which was good to see. It was good softball all round and we came out with a dub which is all good,” Caitlyn Lewin from Te Awakairangi says.

In the end, Hutt Valley won 6-5. The finals for the championship take place Sunday in Mt Albert.