December2014

Tyson Byrne back to help lead Black Sox

December 11, 2014

Auckland, NZ


 

JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
DOUBLE PLAY: Black Sox infielder Tyson Byrne tags out a Venezuelan base runner at last year's world championships.

ORIGINAL STORY By Tony Smith

 

Tyson Byrne grew up watching Mark Sorenson strut his stuff on Hutt Valley softball diamonds and now he's become one of his right-hand men in the Black Sox camp.

Byrne starred at shortstop as New Zealand won a record sixth world championship title last year but he will suit up at second base at the Oceania qualifying tournament against Australia and Samoa in Auckland this weekend.

The 26-year-old has also become part of the Black Sox leadership group as a deputy to captain Nathan Nukunuku.

Byrne took last season off international softball due to family commitments but he is enjoying being back with the Black Sox and working with Sorenson.

"I played under Mark for my junior world series campaign and it's good to be involved with him again. And coming from Hutt Valley, I grew up with Mark around the ball parks a lot."

Byrne said he had been part of the Black Sox since he was 18, but always planned to take a year off after the world championships.

He missed the mid-winter tour to Canada after the birth of his second daughter. "We've got a two-year-old and a six-month-old and I just wanted to put some effort into my two children and my partner and set up a house for us."

Sorenson had no hesitation in bringing Byrne back and giving him extra responsibility. "Tyson's stepped up into our leadership group and is a good 2IC for Nathan. He's someone who won't stand back and watch thing happen. He knows what needs to be done," Sorenson said.

Byrne was New Zealand's top batter at the 2013 world championships and made the All-Star team at the International Softball Congress tournament in North America.

Sorenson will slot him back into the top order of his hitting lineup at No 2 behind leadoff Ben Enoka, and Byrne is looking forward to resuming his rivalry with Australia's ace pitcher Adam Folkard.

"He's always going to be a challenge, but we are seeing him a lot more often now, playing overseas against [him], and momentum is a key thing in softball."

Byrne said it would be important for the Kiwi hitters to "get on top of him and sow a seed in his head that he can't beat us".

Switching to second base will not faze Byrne either. He played much of his career there before taking on the shortstop role for the Black Sox. "There's a lot of us infielders who are very versatile," Byrne said.

 
 

He said it was invigorating to be back in the international arena and he hoped to regain the momentum he created at the last world tournament. "There's a saying that pulling on the black jersey is a heavy responsibility, but it's something I thrive on."

Byrne said the Black Sox were excited to be playing a vital tournament at home and there was a lot more media interest with the games screened live on TV. "But we've really got to keep our focus on qualifying for the world series - that's got to be our No 1 priority." 

- The Press

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