Gruff look gone as wins put smile on coach's dial


Take a look at Softball Hawke's Bay's Facebook site - the photo of senior men's coach Mel England in particular.

England's grumpy and serious portrait would fit well on a Crimewatch page.

However England's regular gnarly appearance was replaced by huge smiles yesterday after his team won two of their three matches on day one of the National Fastpitch Championship in Lower Hutt.

After opening their campaign with a nine-inning 3-2 loss to last year's runners-up Wellington, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Hawke's Bay beat Southern Pride 6-2 before ending the day with an 11-5 thrashing of hosts Hutt Valley, the Bay's first win against the Hutt side at this event, the country's elite competition.

"Obviously I would have been a lot happier if we had beaten Wellington but I'm more than happy with day one of four. Today's form has certainly given us confidence for the next three days and our quest to make the top four," England said prior to a team meeting last night.

Hawke's Bay's Black Sox pitcher Regan Manley gave up just four hits against Wellington while striking out six of the 31 batters he faced. One of those hits was a home run to former Bay representative Campbell Makea.

Hawke's Bay collected three hits against Wellington and left six runners on base while Wellington left five on base.

The win against Southern Pride was a sweet one for England as his Dodgers clubmate Tom Makea snr was assisting former Black Sox pitcher Marty Grant with the coaching of Southern Pride. Hawke's Bay collected nine hits off the Southern Pride pitching staff including two triples by 19-year-old second baseman Karaitiana Aranui who was making his starting debut for the Bay.

Former Junior Black Sox utility Jovaan Hanley, who played at left outfield before pitching the final two innings, produced two hits from three turns at bat while catcher Te Rangi Chadwick produced three hits from as many turns at bat.

Against Hutt Valley Hawke's Bay trailed 5-3 before scoring two runs with their final turn at bat to force the tiebreaker.

Hanley collected two hits from four turns at bat including a home run. Lead off hitter and right outfielder Cameron Willis and Manley collected three hits from five turns at bat, Chadwick and short stop and No 9 batter Curtis Huata three from four.

The Bay were to play North Harbour, defending champions Canterbury and Auckland today.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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