In the build-up to their seventh world title, arguably New Zealand's most successful international sports team borrowed some useful intellectual property from our most illustrious ... and put it into practice when they needed it most.

Trailing Australia 3-2 into the penultimate inning of their world softball final in Canada, the Black Sox men were struggling to get on top of the world's best pitcher, Adam Folkard.

Their early one-run lead had evaporated and starting pitcher Josh Pettett had been benched, after allowing eight batters on base over his four innings.

They were in a hole and needed a spark.


"There was pressure on us, but I just tried to make sure the guys weren't looking at the scoreboard all the time," coach Mark Sorenson told Radio Sport after his team had rallied to a 6-4 victory.

"We get seven at-bats, like the opposition, and if we do the things that we're capable of, we can beat anyone.

"It was just about those little things the top 2 per cent that makes the difference between winning and losing."

Sorenson recalled the advice passed on by All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster, during his team's world championship buildup.

"We were fortunate to have him at one of our camps and he spoke to the guys for a couple of hours about changing 'red' to 'blue', where 'red' is an emotional, angry and hyped-up state, and high performance isn't linked to it.

"But 'blue' is being a lot calmer and more in control of your emotions, so you can follow your processes.

"That's something the guys really connected with. They all went away and looked for their own individual triggers, so when they felt themselves slipping into the 'red', what could they do to get themselves back into the high performance zone."

The Black Sox kept chipping away. They had loaded bases the previous inning, but couldn't fully capitalise, reclaiming just one run, when Brad Rona hit a sacrifice fly-ball that brought Campbell Enoka home.

New Zealand Softball team the Black Sox celebrate their win in the World Softball Championship. Photo / WBSC
New Zealand Softball team the Black Sox celebrate their win in the World Softball Championship. Photo / WBSC

But if frustration threatened, the Kiwis kept it at bay and took full toll when the same opportunity arose in the sixth inning. With Wayne Laula, Campbell Enoka and Josh Harbrow all on base, second baseman Joel Evans stepped up to smash a grand slam homerun over the centerfield fence for a 6-3 lead.

Aussie slugger Nick Shailes would get one back in their final dig, but it was not enough to spoil the party. Relief pitcher Nick Hayes held his nerve and claimed the win for New Zealand.

"I couldn't be prouder of the group," admitted Sorenson, who had captained the Black Sox to three titles as a player and coached them to the 2015 final loss against Canada.

"All those titles are special, but it's certainly harder coaching. I like being out there, able to swing a bat and influence a game, but that's just evolution.

"We'll be celebrating and having a few beers tonight," Sorensen said. "They do it with our blessings.

"They've worked exceptionally hard, and it's not often you get to sit on top of the world and look down."

Seven NZ titles

• 1976 NZ share title with US and Canada
• 1984 bt Canada 3-1 at Midland, Michigan
• 1996 bt Canada 4-0 at Midland, Michigan
• 2000 bt Japan 2-1 at East London, South Africa
• 2004 bt Canada 9-5 at Christchurch
• 2013 bt Venezuela 4-1 at Auckland
• 2017 bt Australia 6-4 at Whitehorse, Canada