World’s No. 1 ranked men’s softball team, the New Zealand Black Sox, has announced their 2017 roster ahead of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship this summer. The team, as announced by Head Coach Mark Sorenson, features the return of 10 players from 2015 championship.
After experiencing a second-place finish to Canada at the World Championship in 2015, the Black Sox are aiming to stand atop the podium once again.
2017 New Zealand National Team:
Tyron Bartorillo (IF)
Kallan Compain (C)
Ben Enoka (OF)
Campbell Enoka (OF)
Thomas Enoka – vice-captain (OF)
Cole Evans (IF)
Joel Evans (IF)
Isaac Fletcher (OF)
Campbell Gibson (P)
Karl Gollan (P)
Josh Harbrow (IF)
Nik Hayes (P)
Wayne Laulu (OF)
Nathan Nukunuku – captain (IF)
Josh Pettett (P)
Brad Rona (IF)
Zane van Lieshout (C)
Head Coach: Mark Sorenson
Assistant Coach: Darryl Marino
Pitching Coach: Jim Wana
Manager: Jayden Moore
Sorenson also announced that Nathan Nukunuku will return as captain but Thomas Enoka did a good job as the stand-in captain and would be “a leader of the future”, but Nukunuku’s experience would be vital.
“He sets high standards and he’s a leader who inspires the guys around him.”
Sorenson said the Black Sox has a “well-balanced squad with a lot of young guys who we’ve blooded, but some older heads who give us that much more experience”.
Three Auckland brothers — and their cousin — will make New Zealand softball history when they play together in a Black Sox world championships squad for the first time.
Established stars Ben and Thomas Enoka will be joined by younger brother, Campbell. The trio will be the starting outfielders at the world championship in Canada from 6-17 July.
The family connection is deepened by the inclusion of their cousin, catcher Kallan Compain, 27. Ben, who won a gold medal with the Black Sox in 2013, is 27, Thomas, the Black Sox vice-captain, is 26 and Campbell — one of six world series rookies in the squad — is 24.
The family quartet, who have played together throughout their careers, won the national championship in Christchurch this month in an Auckland United team coached by the Enoka’s father, Duncan.
But their world championship selection is even sweeter.
“It’s awesome that the three of us are on the team,” said Thomas, who captained the Black Sox on their Argentina tour last November and at the Challenge Cup tournament in Auckland in February.
“It’s been a dream for the whole family to have all three of us in there.”
The Enokas were equally excited at the call-up for Compain, who was on the Argentina tour.
The Black Sox, who have won six world titles between 1976 and 2013, had to settle for the silver medal at the 2015 championship in Saskatoon, losing 10-5 after leading Canada 5-0.
That memory still drives Thomas Enoka, who said it was “unfinished business” and he had “a real fire in the ally to get the gold medal back again”.
TEAM AT A GLANCE
- Nathan Nukunuku and Brad Rona will be attending their sixth world championships since 2000.
- Ben Enoka will be attending his fourth; Nik Hayes and Wayne Laulu their third.
- Nukunuku and Rona have three world championships gold medals and two silvers.
- Nukunuku, Rona, Hayes, Laulu, Tyron Bartorillo and Ben Enoka remain from the Black Sox’s last world champion team in 2013.
- Bartorillo (Australia, 2009), Thomas Enoka (Samoa, 2013) and Compain (Samoa, 2009) have played at a world championships for other nations.
- Queensland-born Bartorillo won a gold medal with Australia in 2009.
- Six players — Campbell Gibson, Josh Pettett, Kallan Compain, Zane van Lieshout, Campbell Enoka and Isaac Fletcher – will be playing at their first world championships for the Black Sox.