MAGS aim for fifth-straight soft­ball ti­tle

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SAMHEWAT

The Mount Al­bert Gram­mar School (MAGS) boy’s soft­ball team are in the hunt for their fifth con­sec­u­tive na­tional ti­tle.

MAGS have so­lid­i­fied them­selves as one of the coun­try’s top soft­ball high schools, win­ning the past four Na­tional Sec­ondary Schools Cham­pi­onships as well as churn­ing out a hand­ful of Black Sox and ju­nior Black Sox rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

They will be look­ing to con­tinue their dom­i­nance at this year’s cham­pi­onships, which started at Rosedale Park on Mon­day, with the fi­nals sched­uled to be played on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

MAGS re­turned this year with a star-stud­ded squad that in­cluded three Un­der 17 Emerg­ing Black Sox mem­bers - Brock Evans, Taine Slaugh­ter and Max Ear­ley - as well as U19 Black Sox Har­ley May­nard.

How­ever, coach Stu Kinghorn, who has been with the side through all four na­tional ti­tles, said de­spite the school boast­ing a strong pro­gramme, this year’s com­pe­ti­tion would be dif­fer­ent.

‘‘It’s go­ing to be a lot harder this year,’’ Kinghorn said.

‘‘There’s a lit­tle bit more depth in the com­pe­ti­tion than there was last year.’’

MAGS will have to fend off seven other ti­tle-chasers - in­clud­ing two teams from the South Is­land. Marl­bor­ough Boys, along with South­land Boys, have made the trip north, while Hast­ing Boys, Rose­hill Col­lege, Green Bay High, St Peter’s Col­lege, and Massey High School round out the rest of the field from the North Is­land.

MAGS are also con­test­ing the girls com­pe­ti­tion, with coach - for­mer White Sox pitcher Michal Fletcher - look­ing to stamp a claim on the Di­vi­sion 1 ti­tle af­ter win­ning the Di­vi­sion 2 com­pe­ti­tion last year.

Kinghorn said the school’s con­nec­tion with Auck­land club Mount Al­bert Ram­blers was a huge driv­ing force be­hind the school’s suc­cess.

‘‘We’ve been very lucky at MAGS. A lot of the kids play for Ram­blers, and they all play to­gether, and they all live around Mount Al­bert so that helps a lot.’’

All the com­peti­tors at this week’s tour­na­ment will be hop­ing the weather fore­cast proves ac­cu­rate, and the rain stays away from Rosedale Park.

‘‘You think cricket’s bad in then rain, well soft­ball’s worse,’’ Kinghorn said.

Be­fore their win in 2013, MAGS had not won the ti­tle since the com­pe­ti­tion started in 1981.

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