Softball: Black Sox ready to take it to the world


Hawke's Bay fans will be thrilled to hear Bay pitcher Regan Manley is now our standby pitcher in the wake of previous standby Karl Gollan's decision to return to the United States. DON'T let someone else do it ... put your hand up.

That's our motto for the world championships which begin at North Harbour's Rosedale Park on Friday and continue until March 10. This was emphasised during our four-day team building camp in the far north last week where players got a clear explanation of who we are and what is required during this campaign.

The boys have been training hard and are ready. By now, fans would have heard about the one change to the squad with Auckland infielder Nathan Nukunuku replacing Auckland outfielder Jerome Haretuku.

It's a bit of a bummer for Jerome but we didn't want to be short of one infielder. I heard rumours suggesting our captain Rhys Casley wasn't going to be fit but he is still in our team and is going to lead this bunch of athletes. Nathan provides cover for Rhys in case of injury. We're doing what the All Blacks did for their last World Cup campaign, making sure we have cover in every position.

Hawke's Bay fans will be thrilled to hear Bay pitcher Regan Manley is now our standby pitcher in the wake of previous standby Karl Gollan's decision to return to the United States for work commitments. Should one of our pitchers be forced to withdraw between now and Thursday, Regan will replace them.

Regan has been told about the expectations of him should he become a Black Sox team member. While we are talking pitchers, teams already here for the tournament have been busy clocking opposing pitchers.

Some pitchers have been clocked at 140km/h. Ours have been clocked from 120km/h to 130km/h. Our pitchers know it's a case of doing the basics well if we are going to be competitive.

As we re-assembled yesterday, some of the boys were starting to get nervous. Everyone will get nervous, even me, and I've been going to World Series since 1992 with the Black Sox. This is to be expected.

We open the tournament with a game against Mexico on Friday night. We know little about this side and because they don't arrive in the country until Thursday night, we won't be able to scout them before the game either.

Our two build-up games before Friday night will be against the Czech Republic today and South Africa tomorrow.

Our goal is to make the top four in our pool which will put us into the quarter-finals. With four of the top five teams in the world in our pool - Canada, Japan, Argentina and us - it's going to be a huge challenge ... but one we're all looking forward to.

Australia, Venezuela and the United States are the fancied teams in the other pool. We've done plenty of homework on the likes of Venezuela, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Japan.

It is going to be an interesting tournament.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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