Multi-talented Wanganui 13-year-old Emmanuelle Savage is pitching for a pair of black socks in the very near future.
Since the age of nine Savage has been playing representative softball during the summer months and made the Wanganui under-15 rep squad when he turned 10 and that experience has gained him selection to the New Zealand International Softball Academy Under-14 side to tour Australia in March.
The former Wanganui Intermediate student is regarded as a bit of an allrounder, but specialises in pitching, a position he has held in the Manawatu/Wanganui U15 squad formed recently because of a shortage of coaches.
During his first international tour Savage will get the chance to showcase his skills against teams from Australia and Japan.
But first he will settle into his new school surrounds at Dilworth College in Auckland where he has been granted a full scholarship. His scholarship was gained through his academic achievements rather than his sporting endeavours.
During the winter months Savage has played representative rugby league, a game he has loved since the age of seven.
However, mother Te Amo Wineera said with the sporting seasons rapidly converging, her son has his sights set on making the Black Sox in the medium term.
"Emmanuelle was born in Wanganui but we moved to the Hutt Valley for a few years and he came back home and joined the Athletic Softball Club. And during the under-15 softball nationals in Auckland earlier this month Emmanuelle was invited by Auckland U15 and Black Sox coach Eddie Kolhase to join the Marist club while he's at school - that was a big coup," she said.
Savage said yesterday he was both proud and excited about his first international trip, but would first have to fundraise.
"I'll be pretty busy mowing lawns and washing cars to help raise the money to go. The family have been a great help and are still very supportive, but as I get into the higher grades the expenses increase," Savage said.
"My first aim is to make the Raw Sox [junior Black Sox] and you can gain selection from the U15 onwards and develop from there. The real goal, though, is making the Black Sox."
The risk of injury exists in most sports and pitching a softball, especially at such a young age, can strain youthful tendons, ligaments sand muscle.
"Knowing your limits helps avoid injury and I'm aware of my limits," Savage said.