Maraenui Pumas Softball Club stalwart Tama Houkamau has labelled Rakai Henare "Junior Black Sox material."

"I have no doubt Rakai will make the Junior Black Sox team within the next four years if he sticks with the game. He's got all the attributes and a great attitude. However he may opt for rugby in the future as I believe he is the man at that game too," Houkamau said last night as 14-year-old Henare's latest exploits were relayed to him.

Four days after gaining tournament team selection at the North Island under-15 boys tournament in Wellington where he hit two home runs, Henare, smashed another homer as the Hawke's Bay under-17 boys team opened their national tournament in Palmerston North yesterday with a 6-4 loss to Wellington and 9-7 win against Otago.

The centre outfielder hit an automatic home run in the fourth inning of their match against Otago with catcher Reihana Wilkie on base. As the score indicates it was an entertaining match which saw the Waka Wilkie-coached Hawke's Bay team recover from 4-2 and 7-5 deficits.


"We've got a talented team here and it was trust in each other and trust in our systems which got us the win against Otago," coach Wilkie said.

Against Wellington, a match which was delayed for 30 minutes because of rain, Kupa Isherwood, who had stints at short stop and pitcher, and Reihana Wilkie were the Bay's best batters. Isherwood had two hits from four turns while Wilkie got on base with three of his four turns.

On the mound Isherwood, who has represented the Bay at under-19 level for the past two summers, conceded one run and two safe hits while he collected three strikeouts. Against Otago Isherwood had two safe hits and got on base with all three turns at bat.

Like Henare, pitcher Kahurangi Beamsley-Allan, had two runners batted in against Otago and two safe hits from three turns. He got on base on three occasions.

Beamsley-Allen had seven strikeouts and Isherwood one.

Henare's homer tied the score at 4-all in the fourth inning. Otago scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 7-5 lead.

Hawke's Bay are scheduled to play Southland, Western Bay of Plenty and Auckland today. The 16 teams have been divided into two section of eight for round robin play before majr playoff and crossover playoffs. The final is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Hawke's Bay isn't represented at the national under-17 girls tournament.