Pictures by Osamu Takezaki and Kaede Moriyama (Japan Softball Association)
HOST Japan rose to the occasion and what was anticipated a close match against Singapore in the battle for the U18 Men Softball Asia Cup 2023, turned out an anti-climax, as the home team sent the Lions packing 12-0 in four innings this evening at the Kochi Softball Fields at Kochi Athletic Recreation Park, Haruno.
Consolation for Singapore, was that they had also qualified for the World Cup in Mexico at the end of year, to accompany Japan. This tournament also served as the World cup qualifier with the top twp teams earning the World Cup ticket for Asia.
This evening, Japan did not waste anytime to stamp their authority with five runs in the bottom of the first inning, after shutting out Singapore without any runs in the top inning.
Japan proved too hot for Singapore, as they went to add another five runs, while Singapore who have been performing well with their pitchers Looi Zi Jenn and Taiki Kang, were let down by their below par performances to add to their woes.
It was all over for Singapore in the third inning when Japan added another two runs and shut out Singapoe on the top of 4th inning, to seal the game.
Japan’s coach Tanaka Yukihiro was naturally delighted with his players who had been slow starters in their earlier preliminary round matches, but today they were in their element from ‘play ball.”
“The team has been improving with each match and today they rose to the occasion to shut out Singapore,” said Yukihiro.
“I am relieved because I had expected a closer encounter with Singapore, especially with their strong pitchers, but they did not show up today which made it easier for us.
“But credit also must be given to my players for raising their game to give their best performance in the tournament.”
Yukihiro said that now they will work towards the World Cup to add another cap to their hat.
“We maybe the U18 World champion in 2020 when we beat Australia (9-2), but now with 19 years old, it could be a different ball game.
“It is going to be tough tournament, with the likes of Australia, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Canada being strong contenders, but we will try our best to wrest the title and do Japan and Asia proud.”
Singapore on the other hand, admitted they were disappointment with their performance in the final but said that they were up against a formidable team and Japan was in a different class.
“At least the players are aware of what they will be up against in the World Cup and have a lot of work to be done,” said coach Muhamad Farhan Harahap Amirudin.
“Our pitchers too were not at the best.”
Farhan said that he will be up against more problems for the World Cup as he will miss four to five players who have to miss the World Cup because of examinations.
“This is going to weaken Singapore’s team, but the show has to go and I will be on the lookout to replace these four or five players and hope our overall strength is not drastically affected.”
For Japan, there was further joy when their pitcher Arai Yamato was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
But Yamato was modest when he said he was pleasantly surprised by the award as he was not in his element.
“It was certainly not my best game and owe to my teammates and fellow pitcher Aso Kanta, who kept giving me encouragement to keep calm, pace myself and remain focussed,” said Yamato.
“If not for their constant encouragement, I may have performed even worse.
“Thus, I dedicate this MVP award to my teammates and it is team award as all of us are ‘Valuable Players’ to the team.”
Chinese Taipei, who won the bronze medal said they came here knowing well that the battle for the World Cup ticket will be against Singapore.
“When we lost to Singapore yesterday (6-11) the battle was lost,” said Tsai Feng-An, Chinese Taipei’s Team leader.
“We were not good enough against Singapore and we have to accept the fact.
“Against Japan today, they were simply too good when they defeated us 10-0. Consolation was that we won the bronze medal and ended the tournament on a winning note defeating India 7-0.”
The Asia Cup and medals to Japan, Singapore and Chinese Taipei were awarded after the final by Datuk Low Beng Choo, Softball Asia president, who is also the secretary-general of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, Yutaka Miyake, president Japan Softball Association (JSA) and advisor to Softball Asia, Sally Lim, secretary general Softball Asia, Tomoaki Okamoto, Chair of Coaching Commission Softball Asia and Executive Director of JSA, See Kok Wooi, Chair Technical Commission Softball Asia and Kazhiro Matsuda, Executive Board Member of JSA.
FINAL DAY RESULTS
Japan 10 Chinese Taipei 0 (called game – 4 innings)
Hong Kong 0 v India 18
India 0 Chinese Taipei 7 (Postponed match from Thursday)
Japan 12 Singapore 0
- Chinese Taipei
- Hong Kong
YESTERDAY’S (FRIDAY) RESULTS:
Singapore 11 Chinese Taipei 6 (halted and postponed match at bottom second inning on Thursday – Spore 5 Chinese Taipei 1)
Japan 11 India 0 (Postponed match)
Hong Kong 0 Chinese Taipei 20
India 0 Singapore 11
1 st DAY’S (THURSDAY) RESULTS:
Singapore 22 Hong Kong 0
India v Chinese Taipei (match postponed because of late arrival of India)
Japan 15 Hong Kong 0
Chinese Taipei 1 Singapore 5 (match halted after 57 minutes and postponed to Friday)
Japan v India (match postponed to Friday)