26/11/2022 - 04/12/2022

#MensSoftballWC  

Hosted by:   NZL

XVII Men's Softball World Cup 2022 - Official Payoff

Global Game Podcast - Sorenson looking for strong start for New Zealand

Global Game Podcast - Sorenson looking for strong start for New Zealand
22/11/2022
New Zealand will open the WBSC Men's Softball World Cup 2022 taking on the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Three years ago, New Zealand started the WBSC Men's Softball World Cup 2019 in Prague, the Czech Republic as defending champions. However a rough start to their campaign, which saw them lose their third game 5-4 to Mexico (after leading 4-0 after five innings), their fifth game 5-1 to Japan and suffer a 6-4 loss to eventual champions Argentina in game seven, gave the seven-time champions a tough mountain to climb.

In the end, consecutive 2-1 defeats to Japan in the semifinals and Canada in the bronze medal game consigned the Black Sox to fourth place - the first time they finished off the podium since 1980 and only the third time ever without a medal.

Now with a 17th appearance in the WBSC Men's Softball World Cup beckoning, New Zealand coach and softball legend Mark Sorenson told The Global Game podcast he is looking for a better start to ensure not a repeat performance at this week's tournament, which runs from 26 November to 4 December at Rosedale Park, in Auckland, New Zealand.

“In this type of event it’s about getting a good start, you want to establish your rhythm and routines for the event, and taking it day by day,” Sorenson, 55, said. “We’re a fitter and faster team than what we have been in the past. I know that the guys are excited, as I am, to get the show on the road come November 26.”

New Zealand participated in last weekend's International Invitational men’s softball tournament in Palmerston North where they lost to Canada 4-2 and Japan 6-0 before beating Argentina 3-2 and Australia 6-5. A 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic completed their campaign.

A long way to the World Cup

Prior to the tournament in Palmerston North, Sorenson, who won three World Championship titles as skipper of the Black Sox in 1996, 2000 and 2004 as well as one as coach in 2017, said his team got together as a group two weeks ago, the first time they played together in three and a half years. “Over the last couple of years it was really about staying connected, making sure that we maintain the relevance,” he said. “We needed to make sure the programme was still relevant, we needed to make sure that we were well connected with the athletes, and we also needed to keep them fresh.” 

How did the postponement affected the building of the final roster? “The extra 18 months time has played into the young-guys hands, in giving them a little bit extra time to mature, but at the other end of the scale, there are a couple of guys that could posibly have gone if it was in 2021, but these 18 extra months at the end of their career have pushed them a bit too far.” 

The growing of the game

After decades of everlasting success, New Zealand has now more company than ever at the top of the softball world. Countries like Argentina, Czech Republic, Japan and Australia have established in the men’s softball elite along with Canada and New Zealand (the two most sucessful programmes in the world). 

Sorenson said the growth of the game is fantastic. "The more that we can get global growth for the game, the better the game will be,” he said. 

The WBSC Softball Hall of Famer thinks that the challenge now is to find more and better competition between pinnacle events. “We talked about how competitive international men’s softball is. And to be competitive, you need to have world-class athletes, that we all have... so then we need a vehicle to promote the athletes and the sport to a more corporate and global audience, which is an opportunity for more sponsorship, more exposure, more TV... You get into the whole marketing thing, and that in itself will help us attract more people wanting to play the game.”