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  • Submarine knuckleballer… and it’s a she!

    Posted by simon c on 2008 November 17日 Monday

    This story is full of goodies for the obscure baseball lover.

    The newly formed Kansai Independent League, which will begin play in 2009, has just held its draft. This is the 3rd independent league in Japan to start operation this decade, after the pioneering Shikoku-Kyushu Island League and the Baseball Challenge League (Hoku-Shinetsu region).

    yoshida_press 

    yoshida_test

    The Kansai league features the first female owner of a pro ball club in Japan as the Kobe 9Cruise (yes, that’s the team name) is owned by Kazuyo Hirota who runs a local mineral water company. The league held an open combined tryout on 4 November, and the draft on 16 November where Kobe selected Eri Yoshida, a 16 year old high school girl who is a submarine knuckleball pitcher (got all that?), with one of its picks after they saw what they liked in the tryout. Yoshida passed the first and second tests of the tryout, then pitched an inning where she struck out the first batter on a knuckler, walked the second batter, then got the next two batters to ground out to second and pop out to short.

    She received a compliment from a former Yomiuri player and new Osaka pitching coach that her knuckler and fastball both have the same delivery. Her fastball is in the high 60s, so I assume she relies almost entirely on the knuckler. It’s reported that she’s considering transferring to a Kobe high school, and indie games tend to be played on weekends, so I guess this could somehow all work out, it’ll an interesting story to follow as Yoshida becomes the first professional female baseball player in Japan (in a men’s league, there was a women’s league for 2 brief years following the war).

    7 Responses to “Submarine knuckleballer… and it’s a she!”

    1. There was a short paragraph in Nikkan Sports explaining how it is that a second year high school girl could be drafted. I didn’t quite get it all, but it seems to be a loop hole about her not qualifying to play in the Japan Students Federation tournaments and thus not being a restricted player in the draft (for any professional league). Did I understand that correctly?

    2. […] apparently attended on open try out for the league on November 4th and struck out the first batter she faced, walked the second, and got the next two […]

    3. Deanna said

      What about Ayumi Kataoka? She doesn’t count as a female pro ball player?

    4. […] wish Eri Yoshida all the best and hope to see her and more young women succeed in competition with the men.  […]

    5. I guess the new Kansai league not having gender requirements while high school baseball having one was the key loop hole here. I’m guessing the reason Kataoka wasn’t drafted by one of the Kansai teams was that she’s a key marketing tool for the Golden Golds, though apparently she plays decently. And the Golden Golds is a club team like the Nomo Baseball Club, neither of them participate in a pro league. I think players on club teams have day jobs, where as independent leagues pay their players, however nominal. Though I could be off on this understanding.

    6. A 16-year-old schoolgirl with a mean pitch has been selected as the first woman ever to play alongside the men in Japanese professional baseball. Eri Yohoda was drafted for a new independent league that will launch in April, drawing

    7. […] on 2009 March 13日 Friday 17 year old high school student, sidearm knuckleballer, and the first female Japanese professional baseball player Eri Yoshida is likely to see her first game action in the pre-season game for her Kobe 9Cruise on the road […]

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