Raiders’ early-season form bodes well for annual Higgy’s Sevens Tournament

SWING, BATTER: Tim Phelan hits out for the Raiders. His side has enjoyed a bumper start to the summer. Photo: KASS INGS
SWING, BATTER: Tim Phelan hits out for the Raiders. His side has enjoyed a bumper start to the summer. Photo: KASS INGS

Orange dominated last year’s Higgy’s Sevens Tournament and if the Raiders’ early-season Shane Wright Memorial Baseball Competition form is anything to go by they’re a big chance of doing the same again this summer.

The annual Higgy’s Sevens is set down for December 16, last year the Orange club claimed a one-two finish and while it’s a vastly different style to the traditional form of the sport,  the Raiders’ strong performance across the opening eight rounds of the regular competition puts them in excellent stead.

“We have played pretty well so far this season, we’re in better spot now than we were at this time last season which is promising, a good sign of development,” Raiders president Luke Whitton said.

“So it’s looking pretty good going into the sevens, we’d love to take the cash there again.”

The Raiders have their second bye of the season this weekend, which means they’ll head into the sevens of the back of last week’s stunning 19-5 win over the Wallerawang Cougars.

That was a bounce back win too, the Raiders had suffered back-to-back losses in the fortnight prior to that.

“We lost to the Cutters and Lizards, both from Wallerawang, after we’d opened the season with three straight wins,” Whitton explained.

“It’s pleasing to see us starting so well, we lost a few of our new players from last season but picked up a few more this summer, and they’ve all developed pretty quickly.

“A few have come from cricket backgrounds, which obviously gives them a bit of a leg-up because their hand-eye transfers to baseball in many ways.”

But, for Whitton, the most pleasing aspect of this summer so far is the Raiders’ junior base.

The club re-formed last summer after a 10-year hiatus, and re-established its junior base leading into this season, entering a side in Orange and District Softball Association’s Tee-Ball competition.

“It’s huge, that’s the biggest thing for us and it really is going well,” Whitton said.

“The results, we really couldn’t care less about them because the kids are enjoying themselves and developing as well, that’s what we want to see.

“The work Ben Vaughan has done for the juniors, along with Terry Bruton and Ben Cox, has been phenomenal.”

Higgy’s Sevens Tournament is on December 16, before the Raiders resume their season after the Christmas break.