Xaviar Herrick urges any young Hawke's Bay softballer wanting to better themselves to take up an overseas contract if the opportunity arises.
The Saints short stop attributed his end of season successes to a four-and-a-half month stint he had with the Alvinston Aces in Canada last year. Three weeks after sharing the top batter award with Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku at the national men's interclub tournament in Lower Hutt, Herrick, 19, was prominent as Saints beat Fast Pitch 6-1 in Hawke's Bay's premier men's post-Christmas competition final at Akina Park, Hastings on Saturday.
"That trip is definitely paying off," Herrick, a son of Flaxmere stalwart and 2016 winner of the national interclubs top batter award, Luke Herrick, said.
A fifth season premier player for Saints, Herrick shone with the bat and glove. With his team leading 1-0 in the second inning Herrick hit an automatic double which scored three runs.
On defence he took numerous outs including a double play which ended the game. He read the hits off Fast Pitch key batter Te Rangi Chadwick well and got him out on three occasions.
"I got him out on the forehand side, backhand side and up the middle. We took him away with us as a pick-up player for the interclubs so we were able to work out what he does," Herrick said.
"I was happy to finish the season like that. It certainly made up for the loss we had in the pre-Christmas final to Flaxmere."
He is keen to return to Canada again but won't until he has finished his three-year electrical apprenticeship with Prestige Ltd.
Former Junior Black Sox pitcher Adam Woon, who had a stint with the Alvinston Aces in 2015, was Saints player of the match. He batted 1000 with three hits from as many turns and on the mound conceded one safe hit while striking out eight of the 27 batters he faced.
Fast Pitch scored their only run in the sixth inning when second baseman Aiden Fleming stole home.
Saints coach Paul Woon agreed his troops displayed the benefits of attending their first national interclub tournament in 15 years. His team only had two losses in the Bay's competition this summer, the pre-Christmas final and the first game of the post-Christmas comp against Maraenui Pumas.
"We were lucky that six consecutive days of softball had taken its toll on Ihaka by the time of the final," coach Woon added referring to Fast Pitch pitcher Ihaka Tangaroa.
A son of former Black Sox pitcher Chubb Tangaroa, Tangaroa, last week won the top pitcher award at the national secondary schools tournament in Lower Hutt where his Hastings Boys' High School team were beaten 3-0 by Mount Albert Grammar School in the final. His Fast Pitch team reached Saturday's final with a 10-9 win against Flaxmere in the semifinal.
Saints qualified for the final without having to play a semifinal as they were top of the round robin.
"I was really proud of our boys second placing on Saturday. They showed a lot of grit to beat Flaxmere and as several of them had played at the schools tournament there wasn't much petrol left for the final," Fast Pitch coach Quentin Chadwick said.
Fast Pitch's win against Flaxmere was achieved without three key players, catcher Corban Kireka, infielder Liam Udy-Johns and outfielder Donovan Mataira, who had a pre-season rugby game with the Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV. They returned to their summer code in time for the final against Saints.