Black Sox infielder Brad Rona
Two of Aotearoa's most renowned softballers have made a return to the Golden Homes New Zealand Black Sox squad for the 2017 world championships in Canada.
Captain Nathan Nukunuku and veteran infielder Brad Rona, who both boast four world championships gold medals, will attend their sixth world series since 2000.
Work commitments meant 36-year-old Nukunuku was unavailable for the Black Sox during the recent domestic season.
40-year-old power hitter Rona has not played for New Zealand since the 2015 world championships but has again impressed selectors.
Head coach Mark Sorenson, who played with Nukunuku and Rona on the Black Sox's 2000 and 2004 world champion teams, is delighted to have his two former team-mates back.
Sorenson says Nukunuku was “world class''.
“He sets high standards and he's a leader who inspires the guys around him.
“Thomas Enoka did a good job as captain on our tour of Argentina last year and at the Challenge Cup tournament here in February, and he will be the leader of the future, but the world series is a completely different situation and it will be great to have someone of Nathan's experience there.''
Sorenson said Rona – the top batter at March's national inter-club tournament – was always on the Black Sox's radar for 2017.
“He was the MVP at the ISC tournament in North America last year, the top club tournament in the world.
“We felt he could play a role for us as a backup first baseman, designated player or pinch hitter.
“We could see him coming off the bench in a key situation and doing the job for us. He's got global respect from opposition pitchers and if Brad's in the dugout or in the on-deck circle, they may pitch completely differently to the guy at the plate.''
The 2017 Golden Homes Black Sox squad is as follows:
Pitchers: Campbell Gibson (Auckland), Karl Gollan (USA), Nik Hayes (Hutt Valley), Josh Pettett (Wellington).
Catchers: Kallan Compain (Auckland), Zane van Lieshout (Auckland).
Infielders: Tyron Bartorillo (Canterbury), Cole Evans (Auckland), Joel Evans (Hutt Valley), Josh Harbrow (Canterbury), Nathan Nukunuku (Auckland, CAPTAIN), Brad Rona (North Harbour).
Outfielders:/Designated Players: Ben Enoka (Auckland), Campbell Enoka (Auckland), Thomas Enoka (Auckland, VICE CAPTAIN), Isaac Fletcher (Auckland), Wayne Laulu (Wellington).
Head coach: Mark Sorenson (Hutt Valley).
Assistant coach: Darryl Marino (Hutt Valley).
Pitching coach: Jim Wana (Wellington).
Manager: Jayden Moore (Canterbury).