© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

Youth softball a massive hit in Canterbury

Layla Bailey-McDowell
Screen Shot 2023 03 31 at 12.38.59 PM
Kaiapoi High School girls' softball team ready to take the diamond  Layla McDowell

NZ secondary school softball competition is in full swing this week on Canterbury's home turf.

Despite the awful weather, students from all over Aotearoa have ventured to Canterbury to compete in the Softball Div 1 Secondary School Nationals, and Div 2 South Island Secondary School Championship.

The tournament is being held at Dynasty Ballpark, which has only recently undergone reconstruction. They have turned their two main dirt diamonds into artificial turf, as a way to increase safety and improve sustainability in the region. 

Canterbury Softball Operations Director, Danielle Richardson says having these turf diamonds has allowed more games to go ahead, even in the wet weather. 

There are 20 schools competing this week, including 11 girls' teams and 9 boys' teams.

The Div 1 section for the girls includes Kaiapoi High School, Rolleston College, Westlake Girls School, Rosehill College and One Tree Hill College.

The girls' teams who are competing in the Div 2 section are Riccarton High School, Avonside Girls, Ashburton College, Queens High School, Southland Girls and Dunstan High School.

In the boys' section, the schools contesting for the Championship are Shirley Boys, Southland Boys, St Bede’s College, Kaiapoi High School, St Patrick's, St Bernard's, Rolleston College, Dunstan High School and Alfriston College. 


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Richardson says there has been a range of abilities on display this week, with teams having completely brand-new players picking up the sport to more experienced players who have made National teams.

She says it’s a great feeling to see softball continuing to grow, especially seeing more Canterbury players making the National stages.

“Seeing them grow up playing softball to then making the big teams, it makes you feel good and makes what I do here important.”

The tournament kicked off on Monday, however due to poor weather half of the games were cancelled. As a result, there was a draw change for the boys' section, and their pool was split into two. 

Richardson says although this wasn’t ideal it has made their job slightly easier, as it almost halved the number of games played by their section. 

Their competition went from having to play 36 games down to 16, which she says creates a closer competition with more people walking through the ballpark, which is "amazing to see".

Although students have had to double up on the layers, Richardson says players are having fun, they’re encouraging each other and they’re chanting for their teammates.

She gave a shout out to North Canterbury school, Kaiapoi High who have brought the vibes and cheering for the little things such as hitting a foul ball. 

That's the great love of the game, and the great attitude that we love with youth.” 

The final playoffs commence today at Dynasty Ballpark, which will mark an official and successful end to the 2022/2023 season