Softball: Black Sox to honour pioneer Dave Sorenson at world champs

The Black Sox will have a huge dose of extra motivation, when they begin their world championship title defence in the Czech Republic next month, honouring the memory of NZ softball legend Dave Sorenson.

Named to the NZ Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, Sorenson headed one of the most-storied family dynasties in New Zealand sports, leading the country to its first world title back in 1976.

He took up a role as an assistant coach of the 1992 side that won silver in Manila, a team led by son Mark Sorenson, making them the first father-son duo to captain the national side.

Now the head coach of the team himself, after a glittering playing career, four-time world champion Mark Sorenson is carrying his father's legacy forward.

Still heavy with emotion after burying his father only three days before leaving for Prague, Sorenson admitted this title bid would have a special sentimentality to it.

"To have all the emotion of that over this last week is something I'm still dealing with," Sorenson told Newshub.

"But he was a softball tragic and he would want nothing more than for me - and us - to carry on, and go out and perform, as Black Sox teams have in the past."

"I'm sure he's with us and will be with us the whole way… watching us and offering his advice, as he so often did. It's been a tough week, but I think we gave him a great send-off and he'll certainly want us to truck on."

Adding an eighth New Zealand world championship title would certainly be the ideal way to pay tribute, and Sorenson is confident the squad has the ideal blend of youth and experience to do exactly that.

And while the history of NZ's success on the global stage is something they draw on for inspiration, it all starts by setting themselves with high expectations on an individual level.

"We spend a lot of time understanding the past. We talk a lot about where we've come from as a group and where the sport has come from.

"But it's not about pressure - it's more about what are our standards going to be this time, what our targets going to be and what are we going to stand for.

"Those standards are normally pretty high, so we want to make sure that the stamp that we leave on this, even in terms of our own legacy, speaks for itself… we just look to add another chapter to the book."

To ensure that next chapter's written, they'll need to overcome what Sorenson believes is a new level of international competition, where the threats to their title are at an all-time high.

"It's really competitive. Maybe 10-15 years ago, you might have had four or five teams, but now there's a legitimate six or seven that could probably win this event."

The Black Sox share a pool with Argentina, Japan and the host-nation Czech Republic.

The top two advance to take on the best from the second pool - that includes Canada, USA, Australia and Venezuela - in the knockout stages.

New Zealand's first game is against the Czech Republic in Prague on June 14.