Japan’s softball rule in Asia, is set to continue in the 2023 U18 Women Softball Asia Cup, which begins tomorrow in Pingtan, China.
Japan’s women’s team are ranked No 2 in the world, while the men’s team are ranked No 3.
And it is no surprise that even their junior teams like the women’s U18 team here in Pingtan, are highly rated by their opponents.
And that upon arrival yesterday evening, that the Japanese team declared that they are here to wrest the title, justifies their rating by their opponents.
The team had undergone six months training with stay-in two camps for the competition, where they are in Group B together with Chinese Taipei, India and Singapore, while in Group A are host China, Philippines, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Japan open their campaign against India tomorrow morning. However, India had not arrived at the time of the team managers meeting late this evening and a decision is expected to be taken on India, at meeting to be chaired by Softball Asia president, Datuk Low Beng Choo.
Japan’s coach Yuhei Yamauchi said that while they are not taking any team lightly, they have come to Pingtan with a mission – to emerge champions.
“We have had a good preparation for the tournament and I am confident that the team will rise to the occasion to achieve our goal to win the title and qualify for the World Cup,” said Yamauchi.
The top three teams in the competition qualify for the World Cup next year.
Yamauchi said that his team comprise of players selected from schools, while three players are with the national development programme and already sponsored by companies to play for their team in the local league.
The three are pitcher Anju Ito and catchers Kumi Ide and Mio Urakawa.
Japan indeed has a very good development programme and have been intensified after senior team’s fall from grace lately.
Under the able leadership of Japan Softball Association (JSA), president Yutaka Miyake, a vastly experienced man in softball, who has in-depth knowledge of the sport, he has been playing a key role in the development of the game.
Miyake, the second term president, who is 72 years old, has been involved with softball for 50 years as a player, coach and board member of JSA and the 22 years he has been a board member, he has been the Technical Committee Chair and National Team Committee Chair.
At the Asian level, Miyake was the chair of Softball Asia Coaching Committee and now advisor to Softball Asia.
With vast programmes on ground, it will be little surprise that the U18 team will comprise of talented players to rise and shine.
Yamauchi when asked on which teams he sees as strong opponents, he picked Chinese Taipei in their Group and host China in Group A.
“These two teams should give us a run for our money, but we should be able to tame them if we play to our strength,” said Yamauchi.
China too have hopes to win the title, but said that Japan will be their main obstacle.
All indications are that Japan, Chinese Taipei, China and Korea could be battling for the three berths to the World Cup.
8.30am Hong Kong v Philippines
10.30 India v Japan
3.30pm Singapore v Chinese Taipei
5.30pm China v Korea