World No. 2 Japan took the first game of the All-Star Softball Series, defeating No. 1 United States, 4-0, in front of nearly 20 thousand fans at Tokyo Dome. The series continues tomorrow, at 6:00 p.m. local time, in Shellcom Sendai stadium. The event features two of the favorites to claim the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, to be held in Chiba, Japan, from 2-12 August.
Jessica Moore started the game for USA and was touched up in the first inning with a pair of singles and a homer. Eri Yamada led of the game with a hit to right field, then advanced to third base with a single by Saki Yamazaki, and later scored the first run of the contest with a pass ball. A few pitches later, the host team added two more runs when Yu Yamamoto hit an outside pitch deep over the right-field fence for a two-run homer, giving her team a 3-0 lead.
After the rough first inning Moore settled in and pitched four consecutive scoreless innings, but in the sixth frame Japan scored again. Yamazaki singled to open the inning, and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Mana Atsumi.
On the defensive side, Japan sent to the circle one of the most dominant pitchers in the world, two-time Olympian Yukiko Ueno, and the veteran right-handed did the job. She pitched four complete innings, striking out 6 and giving up 3 hits, to claim the win.
Yamato Fujita worked two perfect innings in relief, with 3 strikeouts; and then Yukari Hamamura, Miu Goto and Misaki Katsumata retired one out each to close the game in the seventh inning.
The next stop of the series will bring both teams to Sendai, to play tomorrow the second of three games scheduled. The match will be held in the beautiful Shellcom Sendai stadium at 6:00 p.m. local time.
The French Softball National Team witnessed first-hand the event, as a part of the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the French Baseball Softball Federation (FFBS) and the Japanese Softball Association (JSA). The France’s national team players, coaches and administrators had the chance to learn from the two softball giants, as a part of the observer programme included in the MOU.