28 Mar 2017
Black Sox World Championship Squad
Image via Photosport
Two of New Zealand's most decorated softballers will return to the Golden Homes New Zealand Black Sox squad for the 2017 world championships in Canada.
Captain Nathan Nukunuku and veteran infielder Brad Rona, who both boast four world championships gold medals, will be attending their sixth world series since 2000 at Whitehorse in Yukon from July 7-16.
Nukunuku, 36, was unavailable for the Black Sox during the recent domestic season due to work commitments.
Rona, a 40-year-old power hitter, has not played for New Zealand since the 2015 world championships but has earned selection after compelling club and representative form.
Head coach Mark Sorenson, who played with Nukunuku and Rona on the Black Sox's 2000 and 2004 world champion teams, is delighted to have this two former team-mates back.
Sorenson said Nukunuku was "world class." "He sets high standards and he's a leader who inspires the guys around him." "Thomas Enoka did a good job as captain on our tour of Argentina last year and at the Challenge Cup tournament here in February, and he will be the leader of the future, but the world series is a completely different situation and it will be great to have someone of Nathan's experience there".
Sorenson said Rona - the top batter at March's national inter-club tournament - was always on the Black Sox's radar for 2017. "He was the MVP at the ISC tournament in North America last year, the top club tournament in the world. "We felt he could play a role for us as a backup first baseman, designated player or pinch hitter. "We could see him coming off the bench in a key situation and doing the job for us. He's got global respect from opposition pitchers and if Brad's in the dugout or in the on-deck circle, they may pitch completely differently to the guy at the plate."