Versatile Maraenui Pumas premier men's softballer Jacob Mita is back where he wants to be and delivering the goods.
"I'm happy to be back in the outfield ... I wasn't enjoying the catcher's role," Mita, 16, said after the defending champions' first win of the season, 7-4 against previously unbeaten Fast Pitch, at Akina Park, Hastings, on Saturday.
Mita got on base with all three of his turns at bat. One of his hits was a double and he batted two runners in. "After three losses it's good to come back with a win like that. It will give us confidence for the rest of the season including the Lion Red North Island Classic in a fortnight," Mita explained.
With the return of their top pitcher-catcher combination of Hawke's Bay NFC teammates Regan Manley and Karaitiana Aranui Pumas were always going to be hard to beat. They still needed their many youngsters like Mita to step up, and they did, in a polished team effort watched by top Kiwi umpire Wiremu Tamaki from Wellington on plate.
Fast Pitch opened the scoring in the third innings when a promising second baseman scored on a fielder's choice. Pumas replied in the bottom of the third when their shortstop and Bay NFC squad member Horowai Puketapu hit lead-off batter and centre outfielder Tiwana Aranui home.
Pumas capitalised on fatigued Fast Pitch pitcher Jordan Waterhouse from the fourth innings in which Mita hit Karaitiana Aranui home with a double and the Mita brothers, Jacob and Jordan, scored on fielder's choices.
In the fifth innings Pumas extended their lead to 7-1 with Puketapu smashing an automatic over the centre outfield fence on diamond two to score Tiwana Aranui. Waterhouse was replaced on the mound by his deputy Isaiah Tangaroa and the only hit he conceded was to Jacob Mita, who hit Karaitiana Aranui home.
Former Junior Black Sox outfielder Rongo Rapaea sparked Fast Pitch's late comeback with an automatic over the right outfield fence. Outfielder Josh Tipoki scored catcher Grant Dean and first baseman Kane Herbert before Manley struck out the final two batters to take his tally to 11.
Outfielders Luke Woon and Jovaan Hanley smashed automatic home runs as GSB Building Saints returned to the winning path with an 11-5 win against Napier Vikings in the other premier match at Akina Park. The Vikings were competitive for the first three innings. With the score 5-all after the third innings Saints replaced pitcher Tiaki Tewheoro with top hurler Tamihana Hokianga, who didn't concede a run as he struck out eight of the 11 batters he faced in three innings while conceding one run and one hit.
Vikings pitcher Phil Mudd had a tough day on the mound striking out four of the 31 batters he faced while conceding six walks and eight hits including the two automatics, a three bagger and a double. Scotty Mitchell, 49, got on base with all three of his turns at bat for Vikings as did right outfielder Ryan Mudd who batted two runners in.
Mitchell batted one runner in.
Top Hawke's Bay premier women's team Dodgers recorded a win and a loss in the Wellington inter-city competition on Saturday. Dodgers lost 2-1 to Te Aroha before beating Hutt Valley Saints 4-1.
The Junior Black Sox, who were managed by Maraenui Pumas coach Roger Aranui, finished sixth at their Argentina-hosted Junior World Series which finished at the weekend.