Softball: Black Sox beat Czech Republic

A home run from catcher Aaron Stroman-Neemia catapulted the Black Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Czech Republic in one of their final hit-outs before the ISF World Softball Championship beginning on Friday.

With Heinie Shannon starting at pitcher, the NZ men's team took a four-run lead at the top of the fourth innings, thanks largely to Stroman-Neemia's deep hit that sent the ball and the Czech left-fielder over the Simpson Park fence in spectacular fashion.

Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase brought on rookie Nick Hayes to replace Shannon, and then introduced veteran utility Jarrad Martin midway through the fifth innings.

Martin conceded a three-run home run to let the excited Czechs back into the contest, but then closed them out over the final two innings.

"Jarrad has become an option for us," says Kohlhase. "Coming into the rotation, it was very important we give him game time.

"He wouldn't have been happy to give up that home run and neither were we, but it's a matter of short-term pain, long-term gain. He came back well to finish them off.

"At this stage, he's just another option."

Veteran Nathan Nukunuku, recalled to the roster this week, started at second base and immediately impressed with his base-running speed to score one of New Zealand's runs.

"Nathan looked pretty good out there," said Kohlhase.

"He was unlucky to miss out in the first place and has taken this opportunity with both hands."

In fact, that was the theme of the day - the ability to seize chances when they occur. Kohlhase feels his team is creating opportunities, but still needs to get better at capitalising on them before the world tournament.

They have one more chance to hone that mentality, when they take on South Africa at Phyllis St Reserve, Mt Albert, 1pm tomorrow.


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