Softball: Back to base as Makea puts on black shirt

By Shane Hurndell


New Zealand softballer Campbell Makea remembers his introduction to the code at Akina Park, Hastings well.

"Back in the days when I was four ... I used to sit in the dugout with my packet of potato chips and watch dad coach," Makea said referring to his father, 10-time national champion Tom Makea snr.

On Sunday Makea will return to Akina Park as a member of the Black Sox side which will play two games against Hawke's Bay as part of the world's second-ranked team's build-up to the March World Series in North Harbour.

"It's pretty exciting to be able to come home and pull on the black shirt and play in front of Mum [longtime Hawke's Bay scorer Jana Johnson] and dad at home. They were both big influences on my career.

"I've been to Australia twice with the Black Sox and North America twice. But coming home as a Black Sox player for the first time will have special significance ... Akina Park is where it all began," Makea said.

Although named as an outfielder in the Black Sox side, he may also get game time at first base or catcher. Makea, who turns 22 on Monday, hopes his versatility will count in his favour when the Black Sox World Series team is named at the end of the December 6-9 National Fastpitch Championship in North Harbour.

"Nothing is guaranteed yet. I have to make the most of my opportunities on this internal tour [the Black Sox play in Nelson today, Wellington and Hawke's Bay at the weekend and North Harbour on November 20] and also with Wellington at the NFC.

"I don't mind where I am on the diamond with the Black Sox ... as long as I'm on the diamond in a Black Sox shirt," Makea said.

The five-time national champion [three times with Hastings Boys' High School in 2005, 06 and 08, once with the Hawke's Bay under-19s in 2008 and once with Poneke Kilbirnie in 2011] is the only former Hawke's Bay rep in the Black Sox side which will play in Hastings. His Poneke Kilbirnie clubmates, brother and three-time world champion Thomas Makea and Josh Gettins, will play in the Nelson and Wellington segments of the tour.

He is looking forward to playing alongside many of his former Hawke's Bay teammates particularly Jovaan Hanley who was a teammate in every Hawke's Bay age group team and in the 2008 Junior Black Sox which finished fourth at World Series level in Canada. He agreed his knowledge of the Bay players will come in handy on Sunday.

Makea is so focused on making the Black Sox World Series team he has put his job hunting in the capital on hold. After recently completing a four year degree in physiotherapy at Otago University, Makea hopes to score a physio's job in Wellington.

As co-captain of the Wellington NFC team with former Black Sox captain Jarrod Martin Makea has made no secret of the fact Wellington are eager to improve on the second and third placings recorded at the last two NFCs.

"While there will be a few of us pushing for Black Sox selection at the NFC we have to look at things from a team's perspective first," Makea said.

He also has big hopes for his Poneke Kilbirnie club side which includes brother Thomas, younger brother Willie and Gettins from the Bay. It is unbeaten in the capital to date and will aim to repeat their 2011 national interclubs title success in March.

However, his immediate focus is to make the most of whatever game time he gets on the Black Sox internal tour in his quest to be playing at the March World Series.

Only an injury will prevent his older brother Thomas from appearing at a fifth World Series and Makea is eager to join him.

Regardless of whether he achieves this goal, young Makea has come a long way since his potato chips days in the Akina Park dugouts back in the mid 1990s.

The full Black Sox team for Hastings is: Rhys Casley (captain), Nik Hayes, Penese Iosefo, Aaron Neemia, Campbell Makea, Tyron Bartorillo, Tyson Byrne, Dan Tapari, Jerome Haretuku, Ben Enoka, Wayne Laulu, Daniel Milne.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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