Friday, April 26, 2024

Four Hawks make NZ U15s baseball squad

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The four young HP Hawks baseballers from left; Simon Aukett, Ngapera Arthur-Witika, Nikau Waru and Ben Bongiovanni

Four young Howick Pakuranga Hawks baseballers have been selected in a 40-strong New Zealand boys U15 wider squad.

Those selected from the east Auckland club are Ben Bongiovanni, Nikau Waru, Simon Aukett and Ngapera Arthur-Witika.

The squad is ultimately working towards the WBSC Oceania U15 World Cup Qualifier which will take place between September 2023 and January 2024.

Son of HP Hawks president Mike Bongiovanni, Ben says it is a huge honour to have made the squad and he is excited for what’s to come.

“I’ve worked hard and had a great season and am happy to be acknowledged as a top baseball player in New Zealand in my age grade,” he says.

This is not the first time Ben has had the privilege of representing his country however.

In the 2020/2021 season, he was selected to represent New Zealand at the U12 level but Covid-19 brought a halt to any tournaments and travel opportunities.

In 2022, he also represented the Auckland Tuatara, which was made up of the top U13 players around New Zealand to travel to Australia to compete in the Down Under Winter Classic which the team finished undefeated.

If his selection in the National U15 squad this year isn’t enough, Ben has also been invited to attend the Baseball NZ National Development Camp in Hamilton during the July school holidays.

“I’m really excited about spending a week at a baseball-focussed camp with other like-minded athletes improving my skills and development,” he says.

The 40-player squad, including 17 from the Auckland region, was selected from the 79 players who attended the four trial locations across New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch) along with player observations at the 2023 National Baseball Festival and player data.

“Selections were made from players’ performance, attitude and coachability across the four trial locations.

“We have selected a group of players that have demonstrated the necessary skill set but also have the passion and determination to grow and develop themselves further as both people and baseballers,” says National U15 head coach Marty Grant.

With dates yet to be confirmed, a final U15 squad will be named prior to competing at the WBSC Oceania U15 World Cup Qualifier.

“The next six months, I will be focussing on training and staying baseball-ready.

“I really want to see my name listed on the final travelling team named later this year so dedication and commitment to training are key,” Bongiovanni says.

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