Black Sox slugger Ben Enoka launches grand slam home run in first innings of new, shortened version of softball

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

Black Sox outfielder Ben Enoka didn't take long to find his footing in a newly-introduced format of softball after launching a grand slam home run in the first innings of a Fastball 45 match.

Enoka, playing for his club Auckland United, drove in four runs off Black Sox pitcher Campbell Gibson in his first at-bat at Rosedale Park in Albany last night as Softball New Zealand launched Fastball 45 - a shortened variant of softball.

The new format sees teams play for just 45 minutes in comparison to the standard seven innings with the game tailored to keep the scoreboard ticking over. 

Batting sides start their innings with runners on base to get the scoring opportunities going and they also get an extra out to work with - four instead of the usual three.

There's also a powerplay coaches can opt for that forces the fielding side to remove one fielder for two at-bats and batters get a free walk to first base if they see three balls instead of the usual four.

However, the fielding side can nullify all of that if they manage to pull off a double play - two outs in one sequence - which will end that half of the innings regardless of how many outs there are.

Softball NZ manager Glen Roff said the organisation hopes the modifications create "a higher paced and intense version of softball".

"The concept is designed to enhance the best parts of the game with higher frequency," Roff said.

"To achieve this state of play traditional rules have been broken and radicalised to; increase the amount of ball in play, increase double plays, scoring opportunities and the points system itself."

Enoka and Auckland United put that on full display in the first innings alone, turning a double play with the first pitch of the game in the top of the innings to get out of fielding before the veteran Black Sox slugger stepped up with loaded bags and drove one over deep centre field.

United went on to win the game against Howick 11-2 and winning captain, Enoka's brother and fellow Black Sock Thomas, said he was happy his team made the most of the new rules.

"Benny hitting one out - we couldn't ask for anything more," he said.

"We talked about [making double plays] but I didn't expect us to get it on the first pitch. One pitch, two outs, get out of there. How good?"

Earlier in the evening in the women's round, the Hollywood Fish Farm Waitakere Bears also took down Howick, 5-0.