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Black Sox softball series scuppered after Australian apathy

December 5, 2017

Auckland, NZ - - Black Sox softball series scuppered after Australian apathy



ORIGINAL STORY by Tony Smith

Black Sox softball series scuppered after Australian apathy

Black Sox pitcher Josh Pettett hurls a fastball in the 2017 Challenge Cup tournament final against Argentina.
PHOTOSPORT

Black Sox pitcher Josh Pettett hurls a fastball in the 2017 Challenge Cup tournament final against Argentina.

 

The world champion Black Sox won't be seen on the diamond this summer with Softball New Zealand forced to cancel February's Challenge Cup international tournament.

Softball New Zealand chief executive Tony Giles said decision was made after Australia pulled out last week, leaving just four teams - including a New Zealand under-23 side - at the Auckland tournament.

"It's a big call, but it's the right call," Giles said.

The Black Sox and Australia will not be playing in 2018 after Australia withdrew from the Challenge Cup tournament, ...
ANTHONY AU-YEUNG/PHOTOSPORT

The Black Sox and Australia will not be playing in 2018 after Australia withdrew from the Challenge Cup tournament, leading to it being cancelled.

 

"It just came down to the quality of the opposition. With only Samoa, New Zealand 23s and the Czech Republic, it wouldn't have been as good a product.

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"It wouldn't have been fair on the Black Sox because it would have been demeaning their brand."

Softball NZ chief executive Tony Giles.
NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Softball NZ chief executive Tony Giles.

 

Giles had hope to attract the Australians to have a re-match of the 2017 world championships final, won 6-4 by the Black Sox.

He was left feeling "very frustrated" when Softball Australia advised they would not be coming to Auckland.

"It's a bit tough when international male federations don't want to cross their borders and travel.

"It's very disappointing and it means Australia - the number two team at the world championships - won't be competing at any level in 2018 because they're not going to Prague [for an international tournament featuring the Black Sox]."

 

Giles said at the last World Baseball Softball Congress annual meeting he had stressed member federations had a responsibility to travel to international events.

"New Zealand is doing more to support the game of softball, full-stop, than any other federation in the world," he said.

"The Black Sox go to the northern hemisphere every year and the White Sox [national women's team] travel across the ditch [to an international tournament in Sydney]  and the northern hemisphere every year too."

Giles said the White Sox would take part in the Asia Pacific Series in Australia - "at their own expense without any financial assistance from the Australians" - in early February "because they want the international exposure".

He said it was frustrating to have to cancel the 2018 Challenge Cup tournament when SNZ had "good commercial support" and had secured television coverage.

"I'm really disappointed for the Black Sox. They've won seven world titles, and we wanted to celebrate their success at this event.

"It was our one opportunity to showcase them to the New Zealand public and the media." 

The Challenge Cup tournament was first held last February with New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Czech Republic, Japan and Samoa taking part.

Giles had hoped to have five teams in the field in 2018. He said last July that Australia had accepted an invitation to compete and he was hopeful of Japan also lining up with the Black Sox, New Zealand under-23s (Major Sox) and the Czech Republic.

Japan could not make it in February, but had expressed an interest in coming here in 2019, Giles said.

"We're now looking at holding the Challenge Cup on a biennial basis," Giles said.

He is hoping that the Czech Republic will still tour in February and said the Black Sox would hold a series of national trials "involving the top 30 to 35 players in the country" on February 10-11- the weekend set aside for the Challenge Cup.

Giles said SNZ would press ahead with the White Sox's six-game series against the University of Oregon later this month and against Chinese-Taipei in January.

 

 - Stuff

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