Mt Albert Grammar School have capped a stellar year in softball by winning the Auckland and New Zealand junior boys' titles.
That emulates the success of the MAGS senior boys' softball side, which earlier this year won both titles for the second consecutive season. The common denominator is coach Stu Kinghorn, who has coached softball at MAGS for the last seven years.
The juniors had an intense week of softball, winning the national tournament in Papakura, then the Auckland championship last week at May Rd. On both occasions, their foes in the final were St Peter's. MAGS won 11-8 in the nationals, and 5-2 in the Auckland final, but St Peter's were very competitive.
"We've always had reasonably good senior sides, but this is one of the best junior sides we've had. We won the juniors' title two years ago and a lot of the players have gone through to our senior team and done well," says Kinghorn.
The juniors are drawn from Years 9-10 and Kinghorn says this offers different challenges as some do not have a lot of background in the game. But they are all keen, and most follow Kinghorn's advice and play club softball as well. No fewer than seven of the juniors play for Ramblers.
Year 12 student and senior softballer Marshall Layt-Maynard helped Kinghorn with the juniors this season and offered full value.
Key players were pitcher Harley Layt-Maynard, who was the captain and MVP, catcher Max Earley, and Toby Bourgeois, also an MVP. But Kinghorn was swift to stress that this was a talented bunch of young players keen to learn and soak up as much information as possible.
The juniors should be a force again next year.
Kinghorn says he is keen for another crack in 2015 with both sides, and he will likely coach his grandson Brock Evans, a second base or outfielder, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of older brother Cole Evans.
Cole is in the senior team, and was selected for the NZ Junior Black Sox that won a silver medal at the Junior Men's World Series in Canada in July. Last month he was named the top schools softball player in Auckland at the ASB Young Sportsperson of the Year Awards.
The following MAGS players were selected for Auckland Softball representative teams: Harley Layt-Maynard, Marshall Layt-Maynard, Seth Bourgeois, Cole Evans, Andrew Sutton, Blake Wardrope, Zeyvien Ward, Jesse Amiatu, Ethan Jardine-Ngauamo, Ethan Clark, Max Earley, Joshua Kara, Floyd Nola and Ethan Grant.