So often catcher Sam Coldicutt has been the Saints premier men's softball team's unsung hero while the bigger names have hogged the headlines.

"I've liked it that way too," Coldicutt, 18, said on the eve of today's pre-Christmas competition finals at Akina Park, Hastings.

However, should Coldicutt continue recent form which included the No 1 catching role for the Hawke's Bay team which finished third at the national under-23 men's tournament in North Harbour last weekend and achieve his goal of Junior Black Sox selection this year he won't be able to hide in the shadows of Saints former Junior Black Sox pitcher Adam Woon and former Cananda World Series training squad pitcher Kyle Crawford any longer.

Third was a commendable effort from the Paul Woon-coached Hawke's Bay under-23s who finished behind winners Canterbury and runner-up Auckland but ahead of the likes of Wellington, North Harbour, Auckland B and Counties-Manukau/Waikato.


"We defended well as a team which was the key to our success. With seven of that Hawke's Bay team in our Saints side it has to be a confidence booster as we attempt to win a third-consecutive pre-Christmas title," Coldicutt said.

Although Saints have been unbeaten in Hawke's Bay competition fixtures to date this season and boast plenty of depth on their roster, Coldicutt said they won't be taking anything for granted. Their first opponents today, Flaxmere, will miss the services of their White Sox pitcher-catcher combination of Rita Hokianga and Melanie Gettins who are in Auckland playing for the national side against the University of Oregon who will take on a New Zealand All Stars team in a doubleheader in Hastings on Wednesday night.

A former Hastings Boys' High School student who will start an EIT pre trades apprenticeship in carpentry next year, Coldicutt is confident Saints can capture the silverware again today.

"We just need to play our natural game and let our skills come out," Coldicutt said.

He will catch to Crawford, 29, who has tasted finals glory in Hawke's Bay in the past when playing for Fast Pitch. Adam Woon will have the short-stop role.

Another Canadian import, outfielder Bryan Johnson, and versatile third baseman-pitcher Brodie Boyce, who has transferred from Counties-Manukau, are other newcomers who have boosted the defended champions.

"Yes, we've got depth but we still need to do the business. We need to put pressure on our opponents and do our job."

A product of the Saints teeball system, Coldicutt is grateful for the tips he received from Saints former first-string catcher, North Harbour-based former Junior Black Sox rep Jacob Zurcher earlier in his career. Crawford has also taught him plenty about pitch sequences.

Coldicutt knows a strong national under-19 tournament with Hawke's Bay from January 4-7 in Christchurch will enhance his chances of Junior Black Sox selection. With five players from the under-23 squad, the under-19s are keen to improve upon this year's second placing in Hastings.

Coldicutt predicted Flaxmere to provide Saints with their toughest competition today despite missing the services of Hokianga and Gettins. Hokianga's brother, Tamihana Hokianga, will have the pitching duties for a team which has the experienced trio of player-coach Josh Gettins, Curtis Huata and Luke Herrick who can cover several positions.

Long-time Saints coach Paul Woon is rapt with the job his oldest son, Luke Woon, has done in the head coach role with Saints this season.

"With five of the players living at the same house the squad has become very close. We have adopted a tournament-type approach to our season and it has paid off."

Saints will play Flaxmere in the double life semifinal at 10am while Fast Pitch will take on Maraenui Pumas in the sudden death semifinal at the same time. The winner of the double life clash will qualify for the 4pm final while the loser will take on the winner of the other semifinal at in a noon encounter to determine the other finalists.

The 2pm senior B men's grade final will see Flaxmere take on the Maraenui Pumas under-19 team. It will be interesting to see whether Flaxmere's experience prevails over Pumas' youth in this one.