Hey bro, it's times four for the final

By SHANE HURNDELL


Softball

WHETHER Corey Tamati is on the rugby field or the softball diamond he seldom misses out on the last say.

On the rugby field he is one of those cheeky halfbacks who has the ability to keep referees, teammates, opponents and spectators entertained for the entire 80 minutes with his one-liners. On the softball diamond he has a reputation for almost relieving the base umpires of their duties when he's playing short stop.

When he mentioned he had "a world's first for a premier men's club softball final" one couldn't argue. Coach Tamati will field four sets of brothers when his Fast Pitch side takes on GSB Building Saints in today's Hawke's Bay premier men's final at Akina Park, Hastings.

True - it may not be a world first but it's definitely a first for the Bay. Seven of the eight brothers will start - Puhi Rapaea at third base, his brother and former Junior Black Sox outfielder Rongo at centre outfield; former Junior Black Sox utility Mario Herbert at first base, his brother Kane at catcher; Te Rangi Chadwick at second base, his brother Giovani Matairangi (they have the same mother but different fathers) at left outfield and Cody Tamati at right outfield.

Bailey Tamati, 15, the youngest of the eight brothers, is likely to have a designated runner's role.

Puhi Rapaea, the oldest at 32, returned to Fast Pitch this year after playing for Maraenui Pumas last summer. He helped Pumas win the pre-Christmas and post-Christmas titles.

"Pumas weren't going to many tournaments this summer so I decided to play for Fast Pitch again," Rapaea said.

"We're all gelling together pretty good. With so many sets of brothers the whole team is like one big family. We've known each other for years as we have all grown up around softball."

Fast Pitch have yet to lose to the Saints this season and Rapaea is confident this record will remain intact today.

"We've gone to more tournaments, seen better pitching and had more game time together. But at the same time we won't be taking the Saints lightly," said Rapaea, who started playing at Te Aute College almost 20 years ago under the guidance of Fast Pitch stalwart and Softball Hawke's Bay life member Harriet Rangi.

He boxed in Hawke's Bay's Battle for Life in September and is likely to fight in it again next year. He is also considering tackling the Ironmaori triathlon either as an individual or in a team depending on his fitness.

Mario Herbert's confidence levels match Rapaea's.

"No team has trained harder than us this summer ... we've done the hard yards," Herbert said.

Apart from when he played one season with Marist, all of his premier ball has been with Fast Pitch and should the top qualifiers win this afternoon it will be Herbert's sixth pre-Christmas title. While he acknowledged the absence of Joe O'Leary, Brian Dellow and Jovaan Hanley will be huge blows for the Saints, Herbert said his team would be fools to be too complacent.

"On their day, Saints can out-perform any team in the Bay. It's important we start strong and stay in front."

As usual coach Tamati wanted the last say and here it is: "I'm just as confident as the boys particularly if we keep hitting the ball like we have been in recent weeks. In saying that, Jordan [Waterhouse] has been pitching pretty well, too."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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