Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Softball: Home turf a slight advantage

Jeremy Manley of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images
Jeremy Manley of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images

Softball legend Mark Sorenson says the Black Sox face advantages and disadvantages trying to reclaim the world title on home turf.

The world series begins on the North Shore today with added uncertainty over New Zealand's chances because of poor build-up results and concerns about the pitching.

Sorenson said the softball world had "closed the gap" on New Zealand, who were beaten by Australia in the 2009 final.

"Being at home plays both ways. You haven't got that vitriol from the stands and the support is worth a run or two," said the triple world champion.

"The biggest challenge is off the field with people telling you how good you are. It's only human nature to start to believe it."

Sorenson questioned the poor leadup results and was told that the players were affected through being deliberately overloaded in training.

"The good thing is they didn't fall apart - failures can expose cracks but I understand they stuck together really well," he said.

"The biggest focus is around pitching and the challenge for the coaches is how they handle those guys. The emphasis on power hitting these days means we might see different pitchers used in different situations like baseball does.

"I'm only speculating, but they might tell one pitcher his job is to get these three guys out. We do have good pitchers but not a dominant one like Kevin Herlihy, Michael White or Chubb Tangaroa any more."

Sorenson's dream final would be the Black Sox seeking revenge against Australia which would also draw the greatest public attention because of the transtasman factor.

"You can never be over-confident in sport these days and it will be about how they build as a team during the week."


New Zealand

Pitchers: Jeremy Manley (USA-based), Heinie Shannon (Auckland), Nic Hayes (Hutt Valley), Penese Iosefo (Canterbury).

Catchers: Patrick Shannon (Auckland), Aaron Stroman-Neemia (Wellington).

Infield: Rhys Casley - captain, Tyson Byrne (Hutt Valley), Nathan Nukunuku (Auckland), Brad Rona (North Harbour), Tyron Bartorillo, Daniel Milne (Canterbury).

Outfield: Ben Enoka, Donny Hale (Auckland), Jarrad Martin, Thomas Makea, Wayne Laulu (Wellington).

- NZ Herald

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