Six recalled to Black Sox

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Oct 29, 2008

Six players, including pitcher Karl Gollan after a four-year absence, have been recalled to the Black Sox softball team for next month’s trip to Argentina.

After playing against four club sides, the Black Sox contest a tournament along with Venezuela, Argentina and the Parana All Stars.

Gollan, who last played for New Zealand at the 2004 world championship in Christchurch, has been based in the United States but returned to New Zealand to enhance his chances of making the national team.

“He deserves his selection in this team based on some really strong performances in the US which culminated last year’s most valuable player award at the International Softball Congress tournament ,” Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase said.

Also back in the Black Sox are Stacy McLean, Steven Ratu, Fabian Makea and brothers Michael and Thomas Cameron.

Ratu and McLean have been regular members of the Black Sox, but were overlooked for the Oceania world championship qualifying tournament in April.

Makea last played for the Black Sox at the Commonwealth tournament in Melbourne in 2006, Michael Cameron was a member of the team in 2005 and was also in the New Zealand A team the following year while his older brother Thomas was last in the side in 2006 for the Pacific Series tournament in Japan.

Forced changes

The six changes have come mainly through a combination of work, family commitments and injury.

Kohlhase lost the experienced Travis Wilson through his fielding coaching commitments with the New Zealand cricket team, pitcher Heinie Shannon pending fatherhood, catcher Aaron Neemia (wedding), and infielder Nathan Nukunuku recovering from an injury.

Another player who will also come under close scrutiny during the South America tour is Wayne Laulu, who was the 2007-2008 most promising men’s player.

Laulu made his debut for the Black Sox at the world championship qualifying tournament where he was the top batter with an average of .600.

For Kohlhase the tour to South America, which also involves games against Venezuela, is crucial in the side’s preparation for a fourth consecutive world championship crown next July.

Argentina have a number of players involved with American club sides and have on their roster two world class pitchers, while Venezuela are traditionally among the top six sides in the world.

“They play a different brand of softball, they are very free spirited,” Kohlhase said.

“This is a good opportunity for us to play against some teams we will see in 2009 and also do some hard serious training in between those international games.”

The team leave New Zealand on November 14 and return December 4.

Black Sox: Michael Cameron, Thomas Cameron, Roman Gabriel, Donny Hale, Patrick Shannon (Auckland), Daniel Milne, Stephen Ratu (Canterbury), Rhys Casley, Jeremy Manley (Hutt Valley), Marty Grant (Nelson), Brad Rona (North Harbour), Wayne Laulu, Stacy McLean, Fabian Makea, Thomas Makea (vice captain), Jarrad Martin (captain, Wellington), Karl Gollan (US-based).

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