Redbacks head into the unknown
Canterbury baseball has delved into the unknown this weekend with their representative side, the Redbacks, competing at the national championships in Auckland.
A youthful squad of 20 players is representing Canterbury at the three-day tournament and are doing so without the added pressure of high expectations.
It's a homecoming of sorts for Canterbury baseball, which has fought its way out of the doldrums following the earthquakes to become one of the region's fastest-growing sports in terms of numbers playing.
Redbacks coach, and president of the Canterbury Baseball Association, Darrell Chick is excited to be a part of the sport's top national competition.
''To be back on the national stage and competing after the past few years is an achievement in itself, and the continued interest in the sport is really encouraging.''
Chick considers himself to be still a little green after only three years in baseball, but with 25 years of softball behind him he's more than qualified to guide the Redbacks. He picked a young squad for this weekend's tournament, which started yesterday, but the stocks were boosted by some experience.
Riki Paewai, a former player for the San Diego Padres, approached the side about playing in the tournament to help them out.
A pitcher who ''throws hard'' but is a complete ''team man'', Paewai brings some much-valued expertise to the side.
''The rest of the guys will really be able to feed off him and learn as much as they can.
''We have tried to keep the side as local as we can, but we got plenty of offers of players from around to help us out, so we had to take some of them up.''
Billy Nehoff-Bates, Brian Shin, Connor Bensley, Corey Durham, Craig Nelson, Grant Mauriri, Hayden Lee, Ichiro Saito, Jullian Moka, Leigh Ryman, Logan McLauchlan, Marinus Hoogenboezem, Matt Baxter, Michael Loach, Mitch Burrows, Nick Kwant, Scott Ralston, Troy Wilson (C), Riki Paewai, Matt Boyce, Joseph Tulkens (non travelling player, but on injury roster). Darrell Chick (head coach), Sean Ellison (coach).