LOWER HUTT, New Zealand – Softball New Zealand have appointed the Head Coaches for both the Men’s and Junior Women’s Softball National Teams.
Mark Sorenson will return as the men’s Black Sox head coach, while Carl Tuinenga will take the helm for the U-19 women’s Junior White Sox team.
Men’s Softball National Team – Mark Sorenson
Mark Sorenson – who guided the Black Sox to their record seventh world title in Canada in July – has been re-appointed as men’s softball national team coach through the 2019 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championships in Prague.
Softball New Zealand chief executive Tony Giles announced the decision. “He is an outstanding leader and has huge respect and backing from the team and his peers and is the right man to guide the group through,” Giles said.
The 2019 softball world championship will be his third world championship in charge. He took the Black Sox to the silver medal in 2015 and won gold in July 2017 after a 6-4 grand final win over Australia.
The 2017 victory marked the fifth gold medal for Sorenson. The New Zealand and World Softball Hall of Fame catcher was a four-time world champion with the Black Sox as a player between 1984 and 2004 and captained the team to the 1996 and 2000 titles.
Sorenson is optimistic about the future. “I think there’s an opportunity, if we get these next couple of years right, to set the Black Sox up for another decade of dominance in world softball, like we had from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. We’ve got so much talent coming through and we’ve got a great nucleus already. It’s a strong team which now has the experience of climbing the mountain.”
The 2017 Black Sox were recognised at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) awards with Sorenson voted international coach of the year and captain Nathan Nukunuku – who Sorenson expects to be available for 2019 – taking home the international athlete of the year and Softball New Zealand the top international federation prize.
New Zealand was also award the hosting rights for the 2021 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship.
Junior Women’s Softball National Team – Carl Tuinenga
Softball New Zealand chief executive Tony Giles said it was “a fantastic opportunity for Carl”.
Tuinenga said he was delighted to get an opportunity at the “next level” after enjoying his experience with the U-17 Emerging Sox.
A former premier grade pitcher in Christchurch, Tuinenga has been coaching female softball teams for over 15 years after starting with his daughters’ T-ball team. He coached at the under-13 and under-16 levels for the Papanui Tigers before taking over the club’s premier women’s team.
He coached his province’s under-17 and under-19 teams and the Canterbury Development squad before becoming head coach of the Canterbury Red Hawks senior representative team for four years. His highlight at the Red Hawks helm was coaching Canterbury to the National Fastpitch Championship title in Christchurch in 2014.
He is widely regarded in Christchurch for his work with individual players and has taken great pride in seeing some of his Canterbury Red Hawks players, notably infielders Mikayla Werahiko and Cassie Siataga and pitcher Amy Begg go on to play for the White Sox.
Tuinenga says: “Everybody judges success by silverware, but learning about people is also a very satisfying part of coaching”.
He has found it “pretty rewarding” to see “individuals succeed, knowing you have contributed to what they are doing”.
Moving up to the Junior White Sox, Tuinenga aims to create “more alignment” between the junior programme and the White Sox. He has a good rapport with White Sox head coach Kevin Gettins, who has already invited him to join the White Sox at some tournaments, including the WBSC-sanctioned Asia-Pacific Series and the friendly series with the University of Oregon.
Tuinenga is excited about the potential for the Junior White Sox and expects selection to be eagerly contested for the 2019 WBSC Junior Women’s Softball World Championships squad with a number of players still eligible from the team taken to the 2017 world tournament by his Junior White Sox predecessor Venita Hokai.