Black Sox heat up for international challenge

By James Perry

The Vic Guth Memorial tournament brings together some of the best male softball players in the country, including many current and former Black Sox players, in honour of a man who dedicated much of his life to Auckland Softball.

With the Black Sox, and Black Sox B teams set to play Australia and Japan in next weeks TAB Challenge, it also provides the players with some valuable high level competition. Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson says "it's good to see the guys going tooth and nail, banging each other to win the ball game. There's been some really good games here."  

As the predicted heatwave from Australia began to take effect on Auckland Anniversary Day, some of the 32 players named in the two New Zealand teams for the tournament that will take place at North Harbour's Rosedale Park were heating up Auckland's Fowld's Park.

Sorenson is thrilled with the depth Softball New Zealand has at the moment, with another half-dozen players also in the mix for selection, "it creates competition, and it means that guys have got to run a little faster, hit a little harder, and make that extra effort to make that catch."

Among the players is Reilly Makea, another player who is following his father's footsteps into the Black Sox team. His father Thomas won four World Titles with the Black Sox as a player, however, the younger Makea is wanting to forge his own path. He says he and older brother Dante Makea-Matakatea, who is part of the B team next week, isn't phased by any feeling's of having to live up to their father's reputation, "we try and set our own tracks, we don't have to live under the big shadow, that's a big one," 

Sorenson understands the situation the Makea boys find themselves in, "I had it myself when I was playing with my dad, and Brad Rona's sons are having the same thing," he says. Sorenson says the management team always encourages the younger generation to be their own person, "and don't try and wear the shirt that their dads wore because the weight of expectation is too great."

Reilly Makea will play in the TAB Challenge next week in Albany - Photo / File

That aside Makea is excited about playing for the Black Sox at home next weekend, particularly against the Australians, "Whether it's the All Blacks or what not, everyone loves beating Aussies," he says, "We have to do it, it's the thing that's nailed into us, it's our rival. Can't wait to give them a crack."

The Black Sox teams assemble next Thursday in Auckland, with the first games beginning on Friday in Albany.

Auckland United won this year's Vic Guth tournament for the first time in 3 years, beating Hutt Valley Dodgers 5-4 in Auckland this afternoon.