New Zealand softball coach Mark Sorenson says the upcoming trans-Tasman series signals a fresh start for his team.
The Black Sox have named a new-look international team for next week’s three-match series against Australia, but have still kept a few key experienced players to guide the newcomers.
Thomas Makea returns with a valuable contribution to make to the leadership group, backing up captain Nathan Nukunuku, Donny Hale and Brad Rona.
“Thomas is a proven performer at international level and puts fear in the opponents,” Sorenson said.
There are only seven players remaining from those in last year’s world championship-winning team, who beat Australia 5-4 in a feisty 10-inning quarter-final.
“There are some extremely talented players named who have been knocking on the door for a few years,” Sorenson said.
“Te Wera Bishop has come back from the Boston Red Socks and has had a good transition into softball. He’s very young and technically very sound behind the plate.”
Sorenson said a couple of other young players to watch out for were Jerome Raemaki, a former New Zealand under-19 captain, and pitcher Kurt Schollum.
Australia will be led by pitchers Adam Folkard, who has been clocked at just under 140km/h, and Andrew Kirkpatrick, who helped Ramblers win the New Zealand club title last weekend.
Sorenson says the Australians are going through a similar transition period, and the series will provide a good yardstick and test of strength for both teams.
The first game is on March 28 at Rosedale Park in North Harbour, with the remaining two matches featuring in a doublehearder the following day.