Six new players have been named for the GOLDEN HOMES NEW ZEALAND BLACK SOX’S next tour – but head coach Mark Sorenson and some of his senior world champions are taking time out.
Sorenson, captain Nathan Nukunuku, infielder Tyron Bartorillo and outfielder Wayne Laulu will stay behind when the Black Sox play at the Intercontinental Cup tournament in Prague from August 28 to September 1.
Black Sox assistant-coach Daryl Marino will guide the 17-man team in Sorenson’s absence with New Zealand under-23 Major Sox coach Steve Deans as his assistant.
Experienced outfielder Ben Enoka will take over as captain.
Softball New Zealand chief executive Tony Giles said Sorenson “has accepted an offer to take a sabbatical’’.
“Whilst Mark will not be physically in attendance, he has already set the benchmark high for the tour by not only selecting an exciting and youthful squad but selecting a new management line-up also,’’ Giles said.
“Succession planning is key, both on and off the diamond and this is an area where Mark is very astute. His attention to detail in all aspects of campaign planning, including identifying talent, sets him apart in the international game.’’
Black Sox assistant-coach Daryl Marino will guide the team in Sorenson’s absence with New Zealand under-23 Major Sox coach Steve Deans as his assistant. Former Black Sox catcher Casey Eden takes over as manager with Jayden Moore ending his 12-year involvement.
Sorenson said his sabbatical allowed the Black Sox “the opportunity to develop the next tier of coaches’’.
“We just felt they would develop better if I am not there. I’ve been part of everything and will continue to be, I just won’t be getting on the plane. The work we’re doing will continue, just with a slightly different flavour.’’
Sorenson – a four-time world champion in a 20-year career as a Black Sox player – has been coaching the national team since 2013.
He loves the role but also has a lot of business responsibilities as central regional manager for the AWF recruitment company. “I haven’t had a family holiday in five or six years as all my leave is taken up with my softball commitments.’’
Sorenson believes taking a break will freshen up his coaching and is convinced it will do the Black Sox players some good to hear “some new voices’’.
He has confidence in Marino to take over and said it was logical to have under-23 coach Deans assist.
Sorenson said the selectors know what Nukunuku, Bartorillo and Laulu – all proven world championship players – can do and it made sense to spell them to blood others and further develop the Black Sox’s depth.

Nik Hayes (Hutt Valley), Daniel Chapman (Auckland), Campbell Gibson (Auckland), Eru Drage (Auckland).
Kallan Compain (Auckland), Zane van Lieshout (Auckland)
Pita Rona (North Harbour), Joel Evans (Hutt Valley), Cole Evans (Auckland), Rhys Evans (Auckland), Jerome Raemaki (Wellington), Joe Ferriso Jr (Hutt Valley).
Ben Enoka (Auckland, captain), Thomas Enoka (Auckland), Campbell Enoka (Auckland), Reilly Makea (Canterbury), Jackson Watt (Canterbury).
Head coach: Daryl Marino. Assistant-coach: Steve Deans. Battery coach: Jim Wana. Video analyst: Jamie Frisby. Manager: Casey Eden.
Scorer: Ian Ditfort.

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