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On the rise . . . Waitaki Boys' High School softballer Josh Eastwood (16) has been selected for the New Zealand under-17 softball team, which tours the United States, Canada and Australia in June. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Young Oamaru softballer Josh Eastwood is a rare breed.

The 16-year-old was recently selected for the New Zealand under-17 softball team, which will tour the United States, Canada and Australia in June.

Being selected for your country at any level in any sport is a fine achievement.

However, when there is no organised softball competition in the town you hail from, yet you still manage to gain national honours, that is exceptional.

Eastwood, a pitcher, plays his softball in Dunedin for the Dodgers club.

He travels south each weekend to play.

His national selection followed some outstanding form for the Otago under-17 side that played in the South Island tournament during the end-of-year school holidays, and after that in the under-17 national tournament in Pukekohe, where he was named in the tournament team as a designated player.

Eastwood, the only player from Otago and one of only two players from the South Island selected for the New Zealand side, was stunned to learn he had been picked to wear the black shirt.

“I was shocked. It was pretty overwhelming.”

He described his form for Otago as being “pretty good”, which you would have to say is somewhat of an understatement.

The softly-spoken year 12 pupil said now that the news had sunk in, he looked forward to contributing at national level.

“It’ll be good. What I’m looking forward to most is meeting new people that I haven’t played against.

“There’s multiple tournaments we play and we play against random teams.”

Eastwood first began playing softball about nine years ago and has been hooked ever since.

“I don’t really know how I got into it, I just tried it as a new sport,” he said.

He enjoyed the competition between teams and was determined to play his part when he was on tour with the national side.

Organised softball has not been played in Oamaru for several years, and Eastwood believed that was a shame.

He was hopeful the sport would once again have a presence locally.

“It would be good to get a competition down here again.”