The softball women’s Japan-US match was held until the 8th, and Japan won two games at Fukushima Prefectural Azuma Stadium and one at Yokohama Stadium with 2 wins and 1 loss. It was the first domestic international match in a year since last summer’s Tokyo Olympics (Olympics), when she won the gold medal.
At this tournament, pitcher Yukiko Ueno (40 = Big Camera Takasaki) was absent.
Focused on teaching experience.
The big ace, who led the team to victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, has been on the bench for all three games this time to give advice. On the 8th, when they had a rematch against the United States at Yokohama Stadium, where they had won the gold medal a year ago, they watched the new Japan restart from the front row, and smiled, saying, “You’re still young.”
Kiyu Goto (21 = Toyota Motor Corporation), the starting left-hander expected as a successor, shut out the national team for the first time with 3 hits and 11 strikeouts in the 7th inning. Still, as a legend, he wants to teach hard.
“I can say that because I am a pitcher of the same type, but I can pitch now (because I am young). That is Goto’s good point, and pitching with that much power is attractive. I would like to.
Goto also completed the first game two days ago. He allowed only one run in the seventh inning with 13 strikeouts per game.
“They may have a good image, but it’s different from last time. The United States will be more aggressive today,” he said before the game. “Your body feels different,” he warned of his accumulation of fatigue.
True to the maxim, Goto took three hits in a row in the fifth inning when he felt that his body had become heavy. He was saved by Nodoka Harada center fielder, but he was getting over Uchino’s head.
“Mr. Ueno told me to be careful because the ball will float when I feel tired.
Ueno also points out. “I need to be able to understand why I’m being fouled, where the ball will fly in today’s wind, and how tired I am.” However, he promised to continue supporting his juniors, saying, “I’m trying not to make them get too excited. It’s not something I can do right now. I’ll find out eventually. My role is to make it two years instead of five years.” did.
He himself is in poor condition and has not pitched in the JD league (former Japanese league) this season. “I’m still not ready to throw in front of everyone. I don’t want (the many injuries) to reoccur due to my age,” he said.
On the other hand, “I honestly feel that I can still do more as a player. However, that’s not all. There are things that are required of me, so I want to balance them.” In it he laughed.
“Having experienced so far, I realized just how ignorant the people around me (the younger members of the team) are. It is worth teaching and conveying. I want him. Right now, he’s rough, but he’s getting rounder. Right now, he’s pitching in a way that’s appropriate for his age… of course, I think the possibilities are endless.”
After that, I believe in the return of sports to the Olympics. Although it was excluded from the 2024 Paris Olympics, there is a possibility that baseball and softball will be revived at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. He was selected as one of nine candidates. Wait for next year’s decision. After the game, unlike the Tokyo Olympics, which had no spectators, in front of the mound of the stadium packed with 12,655 people, they took a commemorative photo with the US team in front of the ball lined up with “LA2028.”
“It was also a Japan-US competition this time to let people know our thoughts. How much could we convey through the fans and media people who came to see us? Can we convey it? Last year too, It was disappointing to think that this many people had come in, but that made me happy today. That’s all.”
We will continue to focus on appealing. As a player and coach, he will continue to contribute to the evolution of Japan as a face of the softball world.[Jun Kinoshita]
(Nikkan Sports.com/Column “We Love Sports”)
- On July 27, 2009, Yukiko Ueno started in the final against the United States at the Tokyo Olympics.