The team leaves today for a ' />

Black Sox softball coach Eddie Kohlhase regards his team's upcoming tour to North America with a view to the future.

The team leaves today for a 20-day tour which will take in the Legends of Fastball Classic tournament in Kitchener, Canada, and the Peligro Tournament in New York.

"The youth component in our team is vital. We must keep on building this team and ensuring we have the mix between experience and youthful enthusiasm just right," Kohlhase said.

"That's the secret for any team and we're no different."

Kohlhase said the tour provided a real opportunity for the Black Sox to test themselves against the best competition in the world.

"The culture in the Black Sox environment has instilled the importance of preparation, with players not only consistently performing week in and week out, but improving on the way as they strive to become the best they can be."

The Black Sox's North American tour would lay the foundations for their assault on the world championships at Auckland's Rosedale Park in March 2013.

Injuries and player availability have also forced changes to initial selections.

Brad Rona, a veteran of three world championships, will miss the tour because of a knee injury which requires surgery.

His unavailability also means the opportunity to play at international level with son Pita, who's making his Black Sox debut during the tour, is now on hold.

Rona's absence provides Kohlhase and pitching coach Chubb Tangaroa with the chance to add another pitcher to the side - Canterbury's Nathan Taikato.

Also called in to the side for the United States games is pitcher Karl Gollan, who last played for the Black Sox at the 2004 world championships in Christchurch.

Gollan replaces Jeremy Manley, who can't play the United States games.

Pita Rona isn't the only college student selected in the team, 16-year-old Jerome Raemaki of Wellington also being named.

"It's exciting to have two outstanding schoolboys in the team with Pita and Jerome. This is a great learning curve for them and one they won't forget," Kohlhase said.

- NZPA