Horowhenua softball has hit the ball out of the park with the naming of four age grade players in a New Zealand age-grade team.
Fresh from their herculean performance to win the New Zealand under-13 tournament at the national competition in Auckland, the team was now celebrating a strong representation in the national team.
Dante Roper, Eruera Matehaere, Keanu Jennings and Jeremy Stokes were all picked for the New Zealand team to compete in World tournaments in Canada and the United States in July.
Up against the best teams New Zealand had to offer, the Horowhenua team went through the tournament unbeaten, proving they could match it with the might of teams from big city centres with huge player pools.
Coach Damon Tamakaha said it was a coup for Horowhenua softball to have so many players picked for NZ honours considering his team were the only side representing the province this year.
The representative team was also the club team. Each week they travelled and competed against teams from Palmerston North and sometimes went south for games against Wellington sides.
"Regular competition is what helps," he said.
"This team has learnt a lot from being together."
He said they were in danger of being overawed by the big city teams but grew in confidence as the national tournament progressed.
"We just had to settle them down and tell them it was a game of softball and to enjoy it," he said.
Tamakaha said what made the tournament a special experience was that current NZ Black Sox players watched games and were approachable and available for coaching tips.
He said that was something that made softball unique and having contact and meeting their sporting idols made a huge impression on his young players.
He said Black Sox members sang the national anthem when the tournament opened and performed a haka.
Meanwhile, the four that were picked for the New Zealand team now had the task of fundraising as representing their country came at a price.
The cost was estimated to be $6000 per player to attend the World tournament.