WATCH the Black Sox’s new haka before their opening world cup game against the Czech Republic.
The Black Sox got away to a flying start with a first-up 3-1 win over the Czech Republic at the Softball World Cup in Tāmaki Makaurau on Saturday – and the debut of their new haka, which was greeted with loud cheers from an enthusiastic crowd.
Coach Mark Sorenson said seeing the Black Sox perform their new haka made him feel “really proud” and that it was a “big thing for the guys emotionally” as it is “our haka”.
The Black Sox lost to the Czech Republic in a warm-up game last week and needed to be at their best for the tournament opener which followed off the back of the opening ceremony.
“It’s a tough gig after an opening ceremony. You spend a lot of time out there on the diamond. You can’t really activate mentally until that’s all finished. It is a tough spot but we knew we had to play that position.”
Sorenson was pleased with how the team met their first challenge at Rosedale Park on Auckland’s North Shore.
“It was really important to get that first win, that monkey off your back.”
“Really pleased with our pitching. We didn’t give up a lot of hits, we just gave up a few too many walks.”
The Black Sox clinched the game through a “pretty classy” Ben Enoka home run.
“(Enoka) comes up in a situation there, got a one-point lead and is looking for a particular pitch, gets it and is able to take it out over the fence. That was quite a reliever for the offence,” said Sorenson.
The New Zealand coach says the win over the Czech Republic is a “benchmark performance” for the team but they will need to “make sure we’re better again” when the Black Sox take on the United States today.
“You don’t win a tournament on day one but you can set a nice foundation to go forward with. You’ve got to play a game a day and the key focus for us is about getting into our routine, getting a rhythm going with our offence and letting the game flow.”
To help the team deal with the pressure that comes with a home world cup and the desire to do well, Sorenson says they are keeping the focus simple.
“We talked to the guys about, it’s a game that we’ve played since we’ve been eight, nine, ten. You’ve played catch in your backyard, you’ve played with your mates and we’re doing the same thing here. It’s a game that they’ve played for a number of years and they know how to do it so don’t let the occasion take over.
“We’ve tried to downplay it as much as possible but you’re playing for higher stakes.”
Today’s game against the United States was delayed due to the weather and is now scheduled to get underway at 4.20pm Sunday, weather permitting.
The game is live on Whakaata Māori and MĀORI+.