Ayden pitching for big baseball future
He’s further from the plate but his rocket arm is getting used to the challenge.
Plimmerton 12-year-old Ayden Hammond joins a New Zealand junior baseball team in July to take on the world’s best 12-yearold baseballers in Aberdeen, Maryland.
The Cal Ripken World Series brings together teams from countries like Japan, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, and several from the US, for a week-long celebration of the America’s national pastime.
Though growing up a softballer, Ayden has had two years in baseball, which is strongest in Auckland but is establishing a niche in Wellington. He plays for the Porirua Bombers.
Ayden, a pitcher who can play several positions, said he loved the strategy of baseball and couldn’t wait to test himself against the world’s best young players.
‘‘It’s a big thing for me to represent my country,’’ he said.
Thirty-five players trialled for the New Zealand team in Auckland. It was a gruelling trial, with a steady diet of baseball for five days, five hours a day. ‘‘It was very intense. There was agility work, batting, throwing, pitching – the whole lot.’’
His body is getting used to overarm pitching and a training regime with his father, James, is ensuring he warms up properly and doesn’t overdo the pitching and batting.
One main challenge in baseball was to get used to standing about six feet further back on the mound.
Aiming for a square between a batter’s shoulders and waist while thinking about your pitches and strategy takes some getting used to, Ayden said.
He has a fastball, slider and sinker and hopes to develop more options over time.
A Porirua City United softball player, Ayden said he had equal affection for softball and baseball.
He plays a lot more softball, but said he enjoyed watching baseball on TV, citing centre fielders Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Mike Trout (Anaheim Angels) among his favourite players.
Ayden hopes the Ripken tournament could be the beginning of something special in baseball.
‘I love the game ... Playing in the major leagues [in America] would be incredible.’’
Ayden Hammond will be winging his way to the US in July to represent New Zealand at baseball.