The New Zealand Under 15 Baseball team has been bolstered with the inclusion of five Wellington for this weekend's Oceania tournament. New Zealand is one of four teams at the tournament, with a spot at the World Cup on the line.
A final with Australia is on the cards for these boys at this weekend's Oceania tournament.
Coach Riki Paewai says, “This group of 20 boys that will be taking the field is probably by far the best age-group team that we've ever had. So we're gonna take it to them, I think they're going to be surprised.”
Pitcher Ayden Kahu-Hammond (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Porou) says, “They're pretty much a stronger team than us, but I think we should be good to go.”
Five Wellington boys, including pitcher Ayden Kahu-Hammond and Tane Mumu, have been rewarded with a spot on the team, after a strong season with their clubs.
“The like of Ayden and Tane - these kids are special on the diamond. It's a tough game man but these kids are dominating it right now,” says Paewai.
According to research conducted by Sport NZ, Baseball was one of the sports on the rise in this country.
“We've always known it's been on the rise. It's one of those things where someone wanted to get it going, and someone came in. Ryan Flynn (CEO) does an amazing job marketing it.”
With what promises to be an exciting tournament between Australia, New Caledonia, and Fiji. New Zealand is by no means the perfect team.
Tane Mumu (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), who plays out of the Hutt Valley says, “We need to put the ball in play, moving the players around, and hopefully scoring some of them.”
If they execute well like I know they can, then we will come out on top.
The tournament kicks off this Thursday. First up for New Zealand is Fiji.