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Black Sox confirm squad for world softball title defence

March 27, 2019

Wellington, NZ - - Black Sox confirm squad for world softball title defence



The New Zealand Black Sox softball team with coach Mark Sorenson (third from left) next to captain Nathan Nukunuku (fourth from left).

 

ORIGINAL STORY by Tony Smith

 

Captain Nathan Nukunuku has a shot at becoming the most decorated softballer in Black Sox history after being named for a record seventh world championships squad.

The 38-year-old Auckland infielder will lead a 17-strong Black Sox team to defend their world title in Prague in June where Nukunuku will chase a record fifth gold medal.

The veteran infielder - first selected for New Zealand in 1999 - is among a select band of five players with four gold medals for the Black Sox, who have won seven world titles.

Head coach Mark Sorenson - another four-time world champion - said Nukunuku's contribution to New Zealand softball and to the Black Sox had been immense and he remained a clearcut choice.

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Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku at bat.
Debbie Barker Photography
Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku at bat.

"He's still got the competitive drive to want to still play at that level and he's still one of our very best players,.

"We are blessed to have such a strong leader, and someone the group want to follow. It's Nathan's team - it has been for a couple of years - he's a great leader that they all trust."

Sorenson has named three world series rookies, including Wellington outfielder Reilly Makea, 20,  whose father, Thomas, is one of the four-time world champions.

Black Sox pitcher Daniel Chapman has been selected for his first senior world softball championship team.
JASON DORDAY/STUFF
Black Sox pitcher Daniel Chapman has been selected for his first senior world softball championship team.

Auckland pitcher Daniel Chapman and Canterbury outfielder Jackson Watt - both 21 - are the other world series first-timers.

Thirteen players are returning from the Black Sox's 2017 gold medal winning team, while Wellington infielder Josh Raemaki, who missed that tournament with a knee injury, played at the 2015 world series.

Sorenson, Black Sox coach since 2014, said it had been "probably the hardest group to select.

"That's a testament to the competition. Some really good ball players have missed out on the team. For a number of them, their time will come - that time is just not now.

Nik Hayes (Auckland) and Josh Pettett (Wellington) - who combined to pitch the Black Sox to victory in the 2017 gold medal game against Australia - join Chapman on the pitching roster.

With Auckland's Campbell Gibson troubled by injury this season, Sorenson and assistants Daryl Marino and Jim Wana have opted for three specialist pitchers, but can use Makea, experienced outfielder Thomas Enoka, and the left-handed Watt as backups. Enoka pitched for Samoa at the 2013 world championships and Makea was the Junior Black Sox pitcher in 2018.

Black Sox shortstop Cole Evans (L) will be attending his third world softball championships at the age of 21.
JASON DORDAY/STUFF
Black Sox shortstop Cole Evans (L) will be attending his third world softball championships at the age of 21.

Canterbury infielder Tyron Bartorillo is aiming for his fourth world title after winning with the Black Sox in 2013 and 2017 and his native Australia in 2009.

Hayes and outfielders Ben Enoka (Auckland) and Wayne Laulu (Wellington) are seeking a third winners' ring after being part of the 2013 and 2017 successes.

Sixteen of the 17-man squad were in the Black Sox team at the Challenge Cup international tournament in Auckland in February. The exception was Canterbury infielder Josh Harbrow, who captained the Black Sox B team. The 2017 world series winner has forced his way back in after outstanding batting form in the latter half of the domestic season.

"We challenged Josh, but he's done everything we asked of him," Sorenson said.

AT A GLANCE

The 2019 New Zealand men's softball world championships squad

Pitchers:  Nik Hayes (Auckland), Daniel Chapman (Auckland), Josh Pettett (Wellington).

Catchers: Zane van Lieshout (Auckland), Kallan Compain (Auckland).

Infielders: Nathan Nukunuku (Auckland, captain), Jerome Raemaki (Wellington), Joel Evans (Hutt Valley), Cole Evans (Auckland), Tyron Bartorillo (Canterbury), Josh Harbrow (Canterbury).

Outfielders: Ben Enoka (Auckland), Campbell Enoka (Auckland), Thomas Enoka (Auckland), Reilly Makea (Wellington), Wayne Laulu (Wellington), Jackson Watt (Canterbury).

Head coach: Mark Sorenson (Hutt Valley). Assistant-coach: Daryl Marino (Hutt Valley). Battery coach: Jim Wana (Wellington). Manager: Casey Eden (Auckland).

The WBSC world men's softball championships will be held in Prague, Czech Republic from June 13 to 26.

DID YOU KNOW?

Nathan Nukunuku will be attending a record seventh men's world championship (2000, 2004, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019).
He  shares the record (6) with Mark Sorenson, Thomas Makea, Jarrad Martin and Brad Rona.
Nukunuku has a shot at becoming the most decorated player in Black Sox history. 
He has four world championship gold medals (2000, 2004, 2013, 2017), an accolade he shares with Sorenson (1984, 1996, 2000, 2004), Makea and Martin (both 1996, 2000, 2004, 2013) and Rona (2000, 2004, 2013, 2017).
 

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