Rocky boys help bring Qld glory in national U17 championship
SOFTBALL: As Caleb Van Degriendt bowled his last fierce and fast pitch in yesterday's U17 Boys National Softball Championship grand final, Queensland fans watched, eagle-eyed, as Te Urewera Potini scrambled for a catch of a hard hit ground ball.
That catch would spell the end for NSW's week-long undefeated streak, and put QLD on top to claim the final 5-6 victory and the Arthur Allsop Shield.
Rockhampton boys, Pierce Nugent-Moss, Nick Crouch and Max Spencer showed outstanding contributions to the win.
Nugent-Moss caught a "fantastic catch” in the right field, Crouch made some "vital plays” in the outfield” and Spencer "got the balling rolling for the run chase”.
As the team came together in celebration and Queen's 'We are the Champions' played, a standing ovation from the stadium's sea of maroon and blue erupted behind them.
After three years for the NSW as national champions, the glory for the QLD side was even sweeter.
"It was very close,” committee member and proud Queensland parent Garth Spencer said.
"To knock them off the top peg after being undefeated was fantastic.
"It was a see-saw game. QLD were in front, then NSW hit back, then QLD hit back again in the fifth inning.
"They scored more runs and the final run did it for us at the top of the seventh.”
The intensity of the match between the rivals was evident throughout, with QLD keeping up their determination and fighting back when they were down.
"They were scoring hits in hard situations and the coach David Metekingi was looking at their abilities and they enjoyed every moment,” Spencer said. "Everyone was thoroughly awed by the quality for this age group.
"NSW was very dominant throughout the whole tournament, but QLD put on a little more pressure with the bat.”
Secret weapon Van Degriendt on the pitch was a move that QLD side saved for the final.
"It was the first time having the number one pitcher on the plate and he did the job,” Spencer said. "The Rocky boys delivered in every game, took every opportunity and fielded and batted well.
"When the final was ramping up, they each stood up and did the job they needed to do.
"There are a lot of people to thank, including everyone from Rockhampton Softball Association and Ryan Smith for coaching our boys leading up to the championships.”