Japan Softball League 2021 season kicks off, Olympic ace Yukiko Ueno injured in opening weekend

Japan Softball League 2021 season kicks off, Olympic ace Yukiko Ueno injured in opening weekend
06/04/2021
The veteran ace -- who led Japan to the 2008 gold medal -- is expected to be out for three weeks. All games are being live-streamed through JSL’s website.

The Japanese Softball League (JSL) 2021 season opened this past weekend with all 12 teams on the field. The Toyota Red Terriers and Denso Bright Pegasus each won their two weekend games to sit atop the standings after week 1.

2008 Olympic gold medallist Yukiko Ueno’s exit from Bic Camera Bee Queen’s game was the center of attention of the opening weekend. The Japanese Olympic Softball Team hurler engaged in a pitching duel with Mexican ace Dallas Escobedo, of Toyota Shinning Vega, a face-to-face duel that could be repeated at the upcoming Olympic Games. Ueno carried a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning, when she felt pain in her right flank after striking out Kanao Somoto and was pulled out of the game. Shinning Vega would win the match in the tenth frame by a score of 1-0.

“I decided that I shouldn't force myself to throw. I don't want to overdo it now,” Ueno said after the game. The 38-year-old right-hander was diagnosed with a muscular strain in the right side of her body, and according to Japanese press, she is expected to return for the final round of the first half of the league, less than three months before the Tokyo 2020 opener on 21 July.

The Toyota Red Terriers started strong with two one-run wins. On Saturday, young starter Miu Goto, who is also part of the Japanese Olympic pitching staff, went the distance in the opener to beat the Brave Bearies, 4-3, in nine innings. On Sunday, the Red Terriers defeated Ally Carda’s Honda Reverta, 1-0. Carda will represent USA at Tokyo 2020.

Denso also collected a pair of wins over the weekend, with a 3-1, eight-inning win over Minamo Ogaki, and a 5-0 shutout against Taiyo Yuden.

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The JSL first half of the season will be played through mid-May, and then the season will pause for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The second half of the season will begin on 4 September.

All games of the league are being live-streamed via JSL’s website.


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