Sorenson hopes silver turns to gold for Black Sox
New Zealand's most decorated softballer Mark Sorenson is hopeful the Black Sox' silver medal stumble four years ago will spark them to another world softball championship title.
The New Zealand team open their campaign against Mexico in Auckland tonight and Sorenson - who won four World Series gold medals including two as team captain - has faith in the current squad.
He played alongside Jarrad Martin and Thomas Makea on New Zealand's three back-to-back gold medal teams between 1996 and 2004 and Brad Rona, Donny Hale, Nathan Nukunuku and Patrick Shannon were also involved in the latter campaigns.
"The boys have been playing for a while... they do know how to get across the line,'' Sorenson said. "I have to admit the success we had in 96 through to 2004 was on the back of failure [after silver medals at Saskatoon, Canada in 1988 and Manila in 1992].''
Sorenson hoped the "dish of humble pie'' the Black Sox had to eat in Canada in 2009 might prove the necessary motivation to win another world title on home soil.
"There's no question about their ability - it's all about having that fire and desire to go out and succeed.
"They've got some pretty experienced guys there. It's just a matter of establishing some disciplines early in the week at the plate to make sure they don't get into bad habits.''
Sorenson said the Black Sox batters had to determine "where the top of the strike zone is'' and be disciplined about their hitting before they came up against top speed pitchers like Australia's Adam Folkard.
"The harder the guy throws the ball, the quicker you have to be to catch up with it."
Sorenson believes the Black Sox will adopt a baseball-style rotation policy with their pitching staff.
The challenge would be making sure each hurler got enough game time to "get on a roll'' and build confidence through "getting a bit of momentum''.
The Black Sox needed to start the tournament with convincing wins over Mexico tonight and Colombia tomorrow because back-to-back games against Japan, Canada and Argentina would be "quite a defining period in the round-robin''.
Sorenson retired from international softball in 2004 after hitting a home run in the 9-4 win over Canada in the tournament final.
He is in Auckland as the 2013 tournament's official ambassador and will also serve as an expert commentator for Sky Television's coverage of the playoffs stages on the final three days.
- © Fairfax NZ News