New Zealand & Argentina in Stevens, PA

June 25, 2012

Stevens, PA

Northend All-Stars face big challenge
The Northend Softball League is bracing for a foreign invasion in Stevens.

The world famous New Zealand Black Sox will play an exhibition men's fastpitch game against the Northend All-Stars Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Stevens Fire Company field.

On Thursday, the Argentina national team will visit Stevens for a doubleheader beginning at 7 p.m.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

"I could not turn down the opportunity to host these two teams," said Justin Zimmerman, Northend Softball League president.

"Last year it was awesome," Zimmerman said. "The fans definitely enjoyed it."

Fans could like what they see this year even more since the Black Sox will be nearly at full strength as they prepare for the 2013 International Softball Federation World Championships in North Shore City, New Zealand.

"This team is very close to the World Series team," said Paul Walford, a former Black Sox player and promoter of the team. "They have three or four players that were unavailable due to personal reasons for this tour."

The Black Sox promise to play a high caliber of softball that helped them win three straight ISF world titles from 1996 to 2004. They finished second to Australia in the last World Championships in 2009.

"We have some of the most feared hitters in the world," Walford said. "Slapper hitters, contact hitters, put them all together and you have a great team just waiting for the big-time games."

The Black Sox also feature some of the world's top pitchers. Zimmerman said facing them will be a big challenge for the Northend All-Stars.

"When you're facing world-class pitching it's exciting and you just want to do your best," Zimmerman said.

Walford said the Black Sox are looking forward to returning to Stevens after a positive experience for the team and fans last year.

The Black Sox are in the middle of a North American Tour that includes stops in Canada and New York in their last big push prior to the World Championships in March.

"We played here last year as a fill-in for games that could not take place in New York," Walford said. "We had a great time and enjoyed the atmosphere of the town. We wanted to come back and give the people of the town another opportunity to see one of the world's best teams compete."

Argentina, which recently played New Zealand in an exhibition doubleheader, heard about the Black Sox's trip to Stevens last year and accepted an offer to play two games Thursday.

Contact Brian Rippey: 610-371-5070 or

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