Marist and United face off in final again
‘‘Finals are interesting in any sport’’
The stage is set, and a sense of deja vu pervades the Auckland softball community as Marist and Auckland United get set to contest Auckland’s premier men’s softball final for the second year in a row.
Last year’s championship saw United walk away with victory and their fourth consecutive premier crown.
And this year, they will take to Rosedale Park on Saturday as the favourites yet again, having gone through the regular season with an impressive 15-1 record, scoring 90 runs and allowing just 15.
They seek their fifth-straight title, with a side that hosts some of the countries hottest talent - including Black Sox captain Thomas Enoka.
The one blemish on an otherwise perfect record, however, came at the hands of Marist just a week ago.
That confidence, combined with the fact Marist beat one of the countries top club sides - Mount Albert Ramblers - in the semifinals on Tuesday night, could give them a mental edge.
However, while coach Eddie Kohlhase said that was a bonus, the challenge was yet to come.
‘‘They’re the two top ranked teams in the country,’’ Kohlhase said.
‘‘They’re two very good sides, full of New Zealand internationals, so we’re really happy with our results. But we’re under no illusion of how difficult it will be to grab a championship.’’
Kohlhase said making back-toback finals was a testament to the club’s player development and recruiting, and the gritty attitude his side showed all season would come in handy against a tough United outfit.
For United coach Duncan Enoka, losing to Marist last week was a bitter pill, but it has given his team extra motivation.
‘‘It was disappointing,’’ Enoka said.
‘‘Even though it didn’t make any difference to our standings, going through undefeated would have just put the icing on the cake.
‘‘They’ll come out fired up.’’ United will be without captain Ben Enoka who is still recovering from a torn quadricep. That breaks up the star Enoka trio of Ben, Thomas, and Campbell - all Black Sox players - though the side will still boast four other past and present national players.
But if anything, last week’s win will give Marist the belief that United isn’t totally unstoppable.
Alfons Oveinikovas at bat for his Auckland United side. Eddie Kohlhase