Softball: Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson calls time on national team career after 38 years

December 26, 2022

Softball: Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson calls time on national team career after 38 years

Mark Sorenson has been involved in softball at the highest level for the best part of the last four decades. Photo / Photosport

Softball: Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson calls time on national team career after 38 years

- by New Zealand Herald

Mark Sorenson is stepping away from the diamond.

After almost four decades of being involved in softball at the highest level, the incumbent Black Sox head coach has vacated his role.

It was a decision he made prior to this year’s World Cup in Auckland, and he told Newstalk ZB’s Jason Pine that he felt it was time for a different voice to make their mark on the game.

“I didn’t want to announce it beforehand; I didn’t want the focus to be on my last campaign or anything like that because it’s all about the group,” Sorenson said.

“After the length of time I’ve been involved with the team, I think it’s time for another voice and a different perspective. We’ve got a really great group of young men there that need some more international exposure overseas and at home over the next few years, and they can go on and develop into a great team.

“After 38 years of being involved, it’s just time. You know it when you get there.”

A member of the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, the former catcher and dependable hitter spent 28 years playing for the national team. Making his debut at 16 in 1984, he went on to captain the side from 1989-2001 and was a member of four world championship-winning teams before retiring as a player following the 2004 triumph.

Succeeding Eddie Kohlhase as the national team’s head coach in 2013, Sorenson led the Black Sox to a further four World Cups in his time at the helm – winning the title in 2017. Following that victory, he was awarded World Coach of the Year by the World Baseball Softball Council.

However, his most recent forays into the World Cup arena with the Black Sox haven’t been as successful as they missed out on the medals in 2019 and this year at the home World Cup in Auckland.

“It’s been a bit of a rock under the pillow for the last few weeks, to be honest, and I’m sure that’s the same for most of the guys,” he said of the Black Sox’s disappointing run in the 2022 Cup.

Mark Sorenson coached the Black Sox at four World Cups after taking the reins in 2013. Photo / Photosport

For Sorenson, who initially retired as a player in 2001 before returning in 2004 and featuring in the World Cup that year, coaching wasn’t the initial plan when he decided to hang up his glove for good.

Having juggled his time between New Zealand and the United States, he said he needed some time off after his retirement to clear his head and decide on what was next for him.


However, the game drew him back in.

“At that stage Eddie Kohlhase was just taking over from Don Tricker, so we had a great coach in the role. It was probably a couple of years after I finished that the flame started to flicker again.”

A pillar of the New Zealand softball community and widely regarded as one of the best to ever play the game, Sorenson said the time was right for him to make way.

“There needs to be a pathway for our coaches so people can see there’s an opportunity for them to go up the ladder as opposed to having someone block it off continuously,” he said.

“I’m grateful for the time and the opportunity. I’ve worked with some exceptional young and not-so-young men during my tenure.

“Whilst the last result proves not everything is a fairytale finish, there have been moments that have highlighted that dreams can come true and the success we’ve had at various stages is the lasting moments that I’ll cherish.”


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