POWERHOUSE Japan regained the Asian Junior 19-Under Women’s Softball Championship with a masterful 4-0 crushing of defending champion, Chinese Taipei, in a winner-take-all game at the Clark International Sports Complex.
Yuki Masuda yielded two hits and fanned five batters in no relief job and her teammate bombed pitchers Yu Ling Pan and Ya Ting with 10 hits to typify Japan’s supremacy of Chinese Taipei.
“My players played good and Yuki Masuda excellently manned the mound,” said coach Yosuke Sato through an interpreter.
Chinese Taipei staged a last ditch stand in the seventh inning in its bid to save the crown. Showing indomitable character, Masuda retired Chi Hsuan Yen, Chia Hui Ko and southpaw Jia Ling Yu to preserve the win and the title.
“The Japanese played well and their batters found their mark. They deserve the win,” said Chinese Taipei coach Tseng Hsin Chang through an interpreter as he candidly admitted defeat and praised Japan for its remarkable game.
Japan finished the tournament with an untainted record of nine wins and reaffirmed its supremacy of Asian softball in the eight-team competition organized by Softball Confederation Asia in partnership with the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL), supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee.
“I would like to congratulate Japan for winning the championship — they have displayed an unremarkable sense of sportsmanship, skills and discipline on the field. I also extend my congratulations to Chinese Taipei and China for putting up a good fight,” said ASAPHIL President Jean Henri Lhuillier who is also president and CEO of tournament sponsor Cebuana Lhuillier.
Hinting on the next steps of the RP Blu Girls, Lhuillier added, “The 7th Asian Jr. U19 has been a good learning opportunity for them. We will take stock of their experience playing in this tournament so that they will be better prepared and equipped next time.”
Reliving their chance to defend the title after ousting China, 4-2, and forging a title showdown against Japan, the Taiwanese did everything and utilized all their resources from their arsenal but to no avail and bitterly handed the plum to the superior Japanese.
Showing superior skills toughened by a series of exposures and big tournaments back home, the Japanese scored four runs in the first three innings and simply went into the motion with Masuda single-handedly starving the Taiwanese with hard-to-hit pitches.
Aside from winning the plum in convincing fashion, Japan swept all the individual awards with Kudo Kanna collaring four honors — most valuable player, most home runs (3), most RBIs (14 RBIs) and best slugger. Okuda Mei was recognized as best hitter and Iha Hanna with most stolen base (six).
Yuki recorded 10 strikeouts in three trips to the mound against Korea (two innings), India (three innings) and Chinese Taipei (four innings) in a splendid performance that drew praises not only from her teammates but also from foreign players.