Black Sox battling injury worries, weather as first big challenge of World Softball Champs comes from Japan

The New Zealand Black Sox have been given time to recuperate and rethink their strategy for a key pool play match at the Softball World Championships in Canada after heavy rain halted their match against Japan.

Ben Enoka running between bases. Source: Photosport

Japan pitcher Hayami Takahashi kept the Black Sox hitless in the first two innings before pinch hitter Kota Mera batted in Yusuke Itose at the top of the third to give Japan a 1-0 lead.

A strong start from young Kiwi pitcher Josh Pettett, who is attending his first world championships, saw the Wellington right-hander record five strikeouts for two hits before the heavy rain and deteriorating field conditions forced a stoppage in play.

The match will resume early on Wednesday (NZT).

The break in play also gives the Black Sox more time to address a serious injury facing star outfielder Ben Enoka, who injured his left ankle yesterday in the team's win over Great Britain.

"Good news there is no break, however there is ligament damage to his left ankle," commentator Jason Gerbes said in a statement.

"The Black Sox will know in the next 48 hours if Ben will take any further part in the World Championships. (Head coach) Mark Sorenson said it is 50/50 at this point."

Enoka had recently overcome a severe left knee cork sustained in a club tournament in February this year to make the trip to Whitehorse.

Japan are unbeaten to date after downing Venezuela 7-0, Botswana 8-0 and Turkey 24-0 in earlier pool play.

The Black Sox also had three wins going into today's game, having crushed first-timers Turkey 22-0 as well as convincing wins over the Czech Republic (9-2) and Great Britain (16-0).