Former Tauranga representative softball players have come away from this year's New Zealand Evergreens Softball tournament with their best placing to date.
The Tauranga Evergreens team was one of two Bay of Plenty teams that competed in the 17-tournament, held in Hastings on March 1 and 2. The tournament, which was first held in 1971, caters for former representative players and to be eligible, must not have played at rep level in the two years before the tournament and pitchers can not be current Senior A club level pitchers.
Tauranga secured a fifth placing - their best yet - following three wins and one loss, while Rotorua finished in eighth place.
Tauranga Evergreens president Tony Green says the tournament is a special event and plays an important role.
"I have been going to this tournament for 22 years. I am coming to the end of my playing days, and the reason this tournament is so good is you get to see these guys from around all over the country," Green says.
"Unfortunately, the list of guys who are no longer with us gets longer so it is an important event to keep softball together."
While the social aspect is an important part of the event, given players are former representative players there is plenty of competitiveness.
"There is some very high level of games played at the tournament.
"Southland played Wellington in the final and it was equal to what you would see in most places in New Zealand. Without getting too carried away we trained for a month and played two games as a warm-up against Tauranga club teams and had a win and a loss."
During the competition Tauranga beat the Combined Services team 8-6, were 7-4 winners over Otago and had an eight-all stalemate with Rotorua to conclude section play on Friday. A 6-1 loss to Auckland on day two was followed by a 4-3 win over Hawke's Bay to leave the team in fifth.
Rotorua won the title in 1975 and were runners-up two years ago. Along with their draw with Tauranga during this year's competition, the team drew five-all with Otago and beat the combined team 7-6.
Tauranga also claimed the Paul Magan Trophy for the seventh time with their win over the combined services team. The trophy honours the former New Zealand softball star, who died in a car crash in the United States in 1990. Magan played for Greerton and Tauranga before moving to the US. The trophy is on the line in the first game Tauranga play in at the Evergreen Tournament each year.