Some keen softball judges are predicting a big future for Hutt Valley Dodgers pitcher Nik Hayes after his gold medal debut at the world softball championships.
Head coach Eddie Kohlhase said the Black Sox had "unearthed a pitching talent in young Nik Hayes".
Kohlhase expected the 23-year-old and Canterbury's Penese Iosefo to be in contention with Jeremy Manley, who threw Sunday final, for the next series in Saskatoon, Canada, in 2015.
Some of the senior Black Sox players were also impressed by Hayes' potential.
Hayes did not take the mound in the 4-1 win over Venezuela in the final at Auckland's Rosedale Park.
Pitching coach Chubb Tangaroa told Hayes he would be a relief pitcher, coming in in the sixth or seventh inning to close the game or earlier, "if we got into a bit of a situation".
"But [we] knew Jerry [Manley] had what it took to go against Venezuela as he did the other night [in the 2-0 major semifinal victory]," he said.
Hayes said he "did OK" at the world championship and got game time.
"I suppose I learned as a young 'un coming in," he said.
"I did the job when I needed to and just tried to do as much as I could.
"The highlight of my performance was the win over Australia. That gave us the easy ride to the final.
"My highlight's not only winning [the title] but knocking over the defending champions Aussie on the way."
Hayes, whose family - including father Colin, a former Marlborough softball representative - were in Auckland to watch him, said he couldn't wait for another taste of world championship action. Fairfax NZ
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