Seldom has the matriarch of Hawke's Bay softball, Joyce Chapman, let us down with her predictions and she was spot on again at the weekend.
"We should get our third title in a row ... we've got a stronger side than the ones which won the last two titles," 83-year-old Chapman remarked before the Hawke's Bay team travelled to their 10-team national women's Evergreens tournament in Levin.
The Bay side, which was again coached by former New Zealand rep Marilyn Lorimer with assistance from Gay Morgan, was the only unbeaten team going into the final which saw them beat Wellington 12-0 in four innings. Lorimer's troops accumulated 66 runs while conceding six in their six games.
In their section games on Saturday Hawke's Bay beat Marlborough 21-0, North Harbour 4-1, Otago 13-1 and Tauranga 9-4. In their semifinal yesterday Hawke's Bay beat Manawatu 7-0.
"We always had nine batters regardless of the roster we named for each game and our power batting was a highlight of the tournament. Errors were kept to a minimum and everybody clicked," Chapman explained.
Former White Sox infielder Angela Stubbs made her Evergreens debut at the tournament and the short stop, who turned 40 at the weekend, hit two home runs. Utility Tania Tatana-Walker, who had stints at pitcher, third base and left outfield also had two homers.
Stubbs and Tatana-Walker's sister, Deanna Paul, who also played for the Evergreens, played for the Hawke's Bay Dodgers team which won the national women's interclub tournament title in 2014. Stubbs and versatile first base-outfielder Christine Leppien were the only members of the weekend's team which didn't play for the previous two Evergreens title-winning teams.
Five members of the Evergreens team including Brisbane-based outfielder Lynne Guatieri, who has played in all three title-winning teams, don't play in Hawke's Bay's senior B women's competition. Chapman pointed out an indication of the high fitness levels within the squad was the fact pitcher Kay Lorimer was the only player to collect an injury.
"Kay got a knee injury in the second game and missed the next three. However she recovered in time to pitch the final inning of our final."
Chapman is confident all of the weekend's squad will be available again next year when the tournament will be played in Hastings.
"We want to put on a good show for the home crowd and go for four titles in a row. We're looking good for the next few years as we had Whitney Nohokau and Lisa Pohatu come and support us and experience what we're about and they aren't eligible for the team for another five years."