Black Sox introduce fresh talent to squad on European tour as six new caps named for Intercontinental Cup

The Black Sox are using the upcoming Intercontinental Cup in Europe as a chance to bleed new players into the environment, with six new caps looking to make their mark in the squad before next year's World Cup.

The New Zealand men's softball team, who beat Australia 6-4 in last year's world championships final for their seventh title, are headed to Prague, Czech Republic to compete in the six-team tournament.

The NZ men's softball team defeated Australia 6-4 on Monday and were crowned world champs for a seventh time. Source: 1 NEWS

The event, which runs from August 28 to September 1, also features world No. 3 Japan, No. 4 Argentina, No. 6 USA, No. 7 Czech Republic and No. 11 Denmark.

Rookies named in the 17-man squad include Auckland pitchers Daniel Chapman and Eru Drage, infielders Joe Ferriso and Rhys Evans and Canterbury outfielders Reilly Makea and Jackson Watt.

Veteran outfielder Ben Enoka will captain the team in regular skipper Nathan Nukunuku's absence.

Assistant coach Daryl Marino, who has taken over the team for the tournament with head coach Mark Sorenson absent on a sabbatical, says the tournament is the perfect warm up for next year's World Cup - which is also being held in the Czech Republic.

"This is a great opportunity to expose our young group to some of the highest quality International softball teams in the World," he said.

"As well as the quality of opposition the tour will also allow some of the younger leaders in the group to grow and build on their experiences in this environment.

"It will also give us the perfect opportunity to continue preparations moving towards the World Cup in 2019. This will include playing at both grounds that will be used for the World Cup."

After the tournament wraps up, the Black Sox will finish their tour with an exhibition game against "Team Europe" before some members partake in the Super Cup later next month.

While the Super Cup is solely for European club teams, a number of Black Sox players have been picked up as guest players to help bolster teams looking to win the prestigious event.

2018 Black Sox Europe Tour Squad

Pitchers
Nik Hayes (Hutt Valley), Daniel Chapman (Auckland), Campbell Gibson (Auckland), Eru Drage (Auckland).

Catchers
Kallan Compain (Auckland), Zane van Lieshout (Auckland)

Infielders
Pita Rona (North Harbour), Joel Evans (Hutt Valley), Cole Evans (Auckland), Rhys Evans (Auckland), Jerome Raemaki (Wellington), Joe Ferriso Jr (Hutt Valley).

Outfielders
Ben Enoka (Auckland, captain), Thomas Enoka (Auckland), Campbell Enoka (Auckland), Reilly Makea (Canterbury), Jackson Watt (Canterbury).
 

Ben Enoka running between bases, Challenge Cup softball tournament, New Zealand Black Sox v Argentina, Rosedale Park, Auckland. 9 February 2017. Copyright Image: William Booth / www.photosport.nz
Ben Enoka running between bases. Source: Photosport