Softballer strikes out long family legacy
Two years ago, you could have almost bet your house on Aucklander Joseph Kohlhase playing softball for New Zealand.
The family name was strongly associated with the sport’s history.
Father Eddie was one of the most decorated in the sport, winning four world championships with the Black Sox - coaching the national side from 2004 to 2013. Uncle Chris was also a Black Sox member as was grandfather Eric who made the team in 1968.
The family legacy was set to continue when Joseph picked up softball at age five, however, the 19-year-old former St Peters College student has decided to switch codes.
Kohlhase will head to the United States this week to play baseball for Fort Collins in Colorado. He’ll spend two months there before moving to San Francisco where he’ll play at a junior college - San Mateo.
It is an extraordinary feat given Kohlhase has only started taking baseball seriously in the last 12 months. The fact he’s made the transition from softball -a sport he played for 14 years - is also impressive.
‘‘There’s so much of a difference in the game,’’ Kohlhase said.
‘‘I don’t think people really appreciate some of the technical stuff. I’ve had to change everything.’’
After heading away to the US in 2016 with the Junior Black Sox, he decided it was time to call an end to his softball career, and focus solely on baseball. A tough decision in a Kiwi environment where softballers and baseballers don’t get along with each other.
‘‘There has been some outside pressure to stick with softball, but I’m not too fazed with what other people think,’’ Kohlhase said.
‘‘My family’s been really supportive. If I want to do something, they just want me to do it at 100 per cent. Whatever my ambitions are they will support me no matter what sport it is.’’
Eddie Kohlhase agreed but couldn’t hide his disappointment considering it brings an end to a family legacy that spans 50 years. Despite that, he believed Joseph was making the right choice.
‘‘Not many kids get this oppor- tunity, so he’s one of the lucky ones and I was really supportive,’’ Kohlhase said.
‘‘He’s been brought up an environment when people are talking about sport and performance all the time. His desire for high performance far exceeds just playing on a Saturday.’’