Baseball tilt no bar to selection for Black Sox

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Brad Rona's brief brush with baseball won't count against him when the Black Sox selectors sit down to finalise their world championship squad.

The North Harbour veteran was embroiled in controversy last year when he reneged on a team pact to play softball exclusively in the lead-up to the 2013 world championships in Auckland.

Rona, his son Pita, a teenage infielder, and Auckland outfielder Ben Enoka played club baseball in Auckland and indicated they wanted to try out for the New Zealand baseball squad for the 2012 World Baseball Classic regional playoffs held in Taiwan.

That sparked a controversy which resulted in Softball New Zealand (SNZ) sacking Black Sox manager and Auckland broadcaster Doug Golightly after he gave a television interview on the topic.

Golightly's dumping has never been publicly explained by SNZ officials.

Enoka quickly re-committed to softball and Pita Rona, while signing a baseball contract, still turned out for the Junior Black Sox at last month's under-19 world championships in Argentina. He is playing alongside his father, Brad, at this week's National Fastpitch Championships in Auckland.

Brad Rona - a New Zealand batting star at three world championships in 2000, 2004 and 2009 - is now firmly back in Black Sox contention after playing on the team's recent internal tour.

Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase said the Rona controversy was "a really unfortunate situation for all concerned".

"I'd rate it as one of the low points of my career on the basis that we lost a manager and a very dear friend of mine in Doug Golightly.

"Brad's situation is interesting. He has committed to the team and he did so possibly a year ago and decided that he wanted to be involved [for 2013].

"He recently participated in the internal tour . . . he's still in the [world championship] mix."

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