The Southland softball competitions got under way yesterday at Surrey Park, with the new-look premier grade producing some great games.
With the two top contenders, Demons Red and Demons Blue, away at the Spring Shootout Tournament in Christchurch, the other teams promoted from last season's major reserve A showed they also could compete in the top grade.
The newly formed Central Otago Panthers team accounted for ILT Dodgers Brewers 8-5, and, in a closely fought contest, ILT Dodgers Diamondbacks came out ahead of the Black Panthers 5-4.
In the first game, he young team from Central scored three runs in the bottom of the first innings, with lead-off batter Isaac Kahukura gaining a base after being hit by a pitched ball, Tyler Cameron walked to base, and Josh Kahukura hit safely to left field. Nathan Smith batted in the third run.
It was Central again in the bottom of the second innings, with Jason Milne and Isaac Kahukura crossing home plate.
Dodgers' Troy Duthie hit to right field to gain two bases in the third and was batted in by his son, Taine Duthie.
Scott Cameron added to Central's score in the third, walked to base, stole to second and raced home on wild pitches.
Dodgers looked as if they were on the comeback trail when they looked dangerous in the fourth innings, scoring four runs, to Matt Hall, Rex McCormack, Joe Nicholls and Mark Frew.
This was to be the end of the scoring for Dodgers, with Central adding another two runs in the fifth innings. Batters for Central - J Kahukura (2), I Kahukura, C Kahukura, Nathan Smith (1). For Dodgers - Troy Duthie, Taine Duthie, Rex McCormack, Mark Frew (1).
The second game was scoreless after three innings, with Panthers looking the most likely to score first.
This they did, with Jason Milne gaining base after an infield error and being batted around by Darryl Greig and Regan Prattley.
Dodgers went one better in the bottom of the innings, with Greg Houkamau and Greg McDonald scoring two runs.
When Greig reached base for Panthers on an error in the sixth innings, Wade McSoriley hit to right field to score the run.
Dodgers equalled in the bottom of the innings when Nathan Kahukura crossed home plate.
After seven completed regulation innings had been played, the score was tied. With time still on the clock, the game went into a tie-breaker innings, meaning that each team was given a runner starting off on second base. Craig Smith was the runner for Panthers, being batted around to score by Milne and Greig.
Dodgers knew they had to score one run to make the game go into another tie-breaker innings, or two runs to win. With Pare Tanoa on second base, Greg McDonald finished the game in style, hitting an in-the-park home run to score the required two runs.
On the Premier 2 diamond, Panthers Wildcats beat Demons 12-0, Wallacetown Green came out ahead of ILT Dodgers Neffs 8-5, and Panthers Angels took out the game against ILT Dodgers Mustangs 11-4.
The Wildcats out-batted Demons by nine hits to two, so were always in a commanding position. Russell Keen was in fine form for Panthers with 3 hits, followed by Craig Smith (2) McSoriley, Monty McLean, Justin Smith, and Isaac Thompson (1).
For Demons, Terry Thurlow and Jason Te Hua with 1 hit each were the only two to put bat to ball.
With five walks to base in the first innings, combined with an error and a hit, Panthers scored runs. With more of the same in the second innings, another 3 runs were added to the score. Dodgers opening their scoring when Corina McDonald crossed home plate. Panthers scored two more runs in the bottom of the third innings, with Tania Lock being batted in from a three-base hit by Rachel Cade, who in turn scored on an error.
Hayley Munro hit a home run for Dodgers in the fourth, and Kristie Anne Scott and Rochelle Watson scored in the fifth to end the scoring for Dodgers.
Yvonne Keen scored the last run for Panthers. Batters for Panthers - Keen, Raewyn Thompson (2), Lock, Cade, Katherine Cade, Michelle Lawson (1). For Dodgers - Munro (2), Scott, Jaynee Hetaraka, Watson, Sandra Robertson (1).
Wallacetown Green took out the next game against the newly formed Dodgers Neffs team, being made up from pupils of SBHS. Carl Stewart was in fine form for Wallacetown with three hits, followed by Ryan Fellows with two. Bevan Tait added a home run to Wallacetown's score. For Neffs, player of the game Houston Te Tai, normally playing at centre field, was everywhere in the infield in his new position at shortstop, as well as hitting a home run and a two-base hit.
A player also worth looking at and new to the softball diamonds, was Dominic Holland-Collins, who also hit a home run and two singles in his debut. Batters for Wallacetown - Stewart (3), Fallows (2), Jake Hansen, Jonathon Mitchel,Courtney McLennan and Tait (1). For Dodgers - Holland-Collins (3), Te Tai (2), Taylor Loach, Rual Safole, Junior Toparca (1).
Two games were played on the Premier 3 diamond, with ILT Dodgers PK winning 16-1 over Panthers, and ILT Dodgers Misfits had a good win over Wallacetown White, 21-14.
PK Dodgers were too strong for Panthers, with a huge 15 hits to one being recorded. Batters for Dodgers - Wade Isiah (3), Hita Neho, Emma Glover, Mark Nanai, Amber Baedell, Daniel Kemp (2), John Perry, Adam Muir (1). Kim Andrews (1) was the batter for Panthers.
In the second game, Dodgers Misfits out-hit Wallacetown 20-11.
Luiz Pont had an exceptional day with the bat, recording a home run, three two-base hits, and a single for five from five.
Nic An Kuoi was not far behind, also hitting a home run, as did Russell Harvey. Batters for Dodgers - Pont (5), An Kuoi, Eric Matiaha (3), Harvey, Tara Buckley, Brad Turner (2), Hori Elers, Awhina Matiaha, Maxine Jones (1). For Wallacetown - Jake Hansen (4), Hana Mitchell, Michael Shepherd (2), Lauren Zwies, Nicole Robertson, Leeann Duston (1).
- The Southland Times