Raiders add duo to ros­ter

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT - AARON GOILE

The Hamil­ton Raiders are ready to be a much stronger force in their sec­ond sea­son of the Auck­land club base­ball com­pe­ti­tion, with two handy ad­di­tions now com­plet­ing their play­ing ros­ter.

With the work of coach Richard Tuhoro the team re­turned af­ter more than a decade out, to com­pete at the na­tional cham­pi­onships last year, then went on to en­ter the club com­pe­ti­tion, where their in­ex­pe­ri­enced unit fin­ished bot­tom of the heap.

But this year the Raiders are primed to be a far more com­pet­i­tive unit, with their 14-man group now sewn up, with the ad­di­tions of ex­pe­ri­enced and classy duo Marko Lezaic and Jack Fletcher.

Lezaic grew up in New Zealand then went to ju­nior col­lege in the United States to de­velop his game over there for three years. He went on to play in Ger­many and in the Aus­tralian Base­ball League, and rep­re­sented New Zealand in the 2013 World Base­ball Clas­sic Qual­i­fiers.

‘‘We’re very lucky to have some­one of his cal­i­bre on board with us,’’ Tuhoro said of the pitcher/first base­man/third base­man, who works for the Auck­land Base­ball As­so­ci­a­tion teach­ing kids ‘Ki­wiBall’.

The 29-year-old will bring plenty of nous to the young­sters at the Raiders, who he was keen to join af­ter see­ing them at the club na­tion­als last year.

Lezaic will travel down for one of the three train­ings a week.

Fletcher, mean­while, is a sec­ond base­man/ short­stop, con­tin­u­ing in the mould of a util­ity op­tion which Tuhoro is keen on hav­ing play­ers as this year.

The 24-year-old is orig­i­nally from a soft­ball back­ground but made the switch a while back, keen on ven­tur­ing to the USA, be­fore study­ing for a law de­gree in Welling­ton kept him here.

A shoul­der in­jury while play­ing rugby stopped his base­ball for a while, then Fletcher got back into it last sea­son, turn­ing out for North Shore.

Now hav­ing en­rolled in a full im­mer­sion Te Reo Ma¯ori course at the Univer­sity of Waikato, it has led him to the Raiders, who he says can be a big threat this year.

The Raiders’ first game of the sea­son comes this week­end.

Jack Fletcher will be look­ing to make his mark with the Hamil­ton Raiders.

Hamil­ton Raiders coach Richard Tuhoro is ex­cited for his side’s sea­son ahead.

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