Accidental softballer Nik Hayes hopes to strike Yukon gold

Black Sox pitcher Nik Hayes in action for the Hutt Valley Dodgers.
Phillip Rollo

Black Sox pitcher Nik Hayes in action for the Hutt Valley Dodgers.

If you want to know how tough it is being a Black Sox, you can ask Nik Hayes.

The Dodgers and Hutt Valley pitcher is a key member of Mark Sorenson's team looking to win the World Series in Canada in July.

Hayes has carved out a fine career in a Dodgers team that has dominated national club softball in recent years.

Nik Hayes when he first rose to prominance in 2007.
dave Dawkins

Nik Hayes when he first rose to prominance in 2007.

What a lot of people might no realise is that despite being a key member of the Black Sox, Hayes has to work fulltime.

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He enjoys delivering LPG but takes unpaid leave to play for the Black Sox. When he plays for his club or province he also has to contribute financially and he said money did deter some players.

Originally from Blenheim, Hayes is almost an accidental softballer. At school he played rugby and softball.

"My dad had a big influence on the sport I played. I played rugby seriously and softball for fun."

The turning point came in unusual circumstances, when he was selected to represent Marlborough at the national under 19 softball tournament.

Against all expectations, Marlborough did well with Hayes on the diamond and he was then selected in the  national under 19 team to attend the World Series.

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"I did not even know there was a World Series."

He was then encouraged to move to Wellington where he teamed up with Poneke-Kilbirnie and Marty Grant.

Later, he joined Hutt Valley Cardinals and when that club fell out of Premier One he joined Dodgers where he has been ever since.

 The club had a good culture with a lot of top players.

He and fellow Dodger Joel Evans will be key players at the World Series in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Hayes attended the Junior 2008 World Series at the same venue and is confident the Black Sox can bring home the title. "There is definitely no reason why we can't."

Coach Mark Sorenson has put an emphasis on picking good athletes and Hayes believed the team had  the talent to do well. "I am looking forward to going to Canada and winning. I am not looking for any other result."

* Nik is not the only member of his family who has performed well on the sports field. His brother Dylan, who played for Hutt Old Boys Marist, plays professional rugby in France.

 - Stuff

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