As the Black Sox head into camp to prepare for next month's World Softball Championships in Auckland, competition within the ranks is starting to heat up.
During the next few days, the Black Sox will contest two club tournaments, tackle their first international opponents, and begin to implement the tactics and strategies that will hopefully carry them back to the world title.
Nowhere is the competition fiercer than out on the pitcher's plate, where four candidates are used to being "the man".
"You do want to be the one, but it's all positive though," insists pitcher Penese Iosefo.
"We all know that, on the day, anyone could do the job, but if you put yourself out there, you never know what could happen."
Pitching is crucial to the hopes of any team, as Australia proved when they toppled the three-time defending world champion Kiwis at the last tournament.
This time round the Black Sox coaches have opted to have an extra hurler on their roster at the expense of an outfielder, providing a little more flexibility down the stretch.
"Rightly or wrongly, pitching tends to dominate softball," said coach Eddie Kohlhase.
"We felt that we needed a battery team to win this championship.
"It's important to have that internal competition for places for this team to succeed, as long as it's healthy and respectful. At the end of the day, we all have to be pulling in the same direction."
Everyone in the 17-strong group will get their chance to stake a claim this weekend, as the Black Sox compete against Auckland's best clubs at the Dean Schick Tournament and face Samoa twice in their first international outings.
Black Sox at Dean Schick Tournament
Simson Park, Auckland
Saturday, February 9
11.30am v Roosters
1.30pm v Ramblers
4pm v Marist
5.30pm v Samoa
Sunday, February 10
9am v Howick
1.30pm v Samoa
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