Marlborough’s senior men’s softball side proved highly-competitive at the annual Jefferies Cup tournament, which was staged in Christchurch recently, but fell short of a top two placing in the round-robin format.
They came away from the four-team competition at Mizuno Ballpark with a three-win, three-loss record, finishing third behind perennial winners Canterbury and Otago.
Marlborough met the host first-up, losing 8-2, before beating Otago 7-6 and Southland 6-4. Their final match on an arduous day one was a replay of their earlier clash with Otago, but this time the southerners came away with a narrow 2-1 win.
On Sunday, Marlborough accounted for Southland in their opening match, again 6-4, before going down to Canterbury in a high-scoring encounter 15-8.
Coach Steve Gill felt his side had performed well, despite the fact they had played no warm-up games together prior to the interprovincial tournament and were without their usual ace, former Black Sox pitcher Kurt Schollum.
“Our first game [for the season] was against Canterbury and we started well, going up 2-0 in the first inning against the eventual winners.
“The boys played excellently with little preparation. Saying that though, even if we had been playing a lot of ball, we may have ended up with the same result.”
In the side’s second match against Canterbury they made a blazing start, going ahead 8-1 heading into the fourth inning before losing 15-8 in the fifth, as the home side brought a few of their bigger names into the game.
Kyle Marfell, who hit a big homer against the Red and Blacks, and William Macdonald, with a three-bagger, were impressive with the bat all tournament. Macdonald, Jontae MacDonald and Riley Power, from Nelson, shared the pitching duties.
With there being no senior competition at the moment in Marlborough, Gill had to call on several players who play elsewhere, recruiting some of them under a “State of Origin” rule.
However, he said “six or seven” Marlborough-based players had trained regularly in Blenheim for the Jefferies.
“It is just that there is a shortage of pitchers around [Marlborough] at the moment. With William and Jontae now in Christchurch and Kurt taking time out it’s been hard to get the others regular play.”
The Marlborough team was: Jontae MacDonald, William Macdonald, Campbell Gill, Kyle Marfell, Tyler Bird, Denham Wisdom, Blake Wisdom, Anaru Anderson, Christian Farrow, Drew Roberts, Riley Power (Nelson), Jack Bates and Jacob Davidson (Christchurch).
Anderson and Macdonald were picked up by Canterbury for the national under-23 tournament which followed the Jefferies Cup, McDonald joining the Southland side.