Japan Women’s Softball League opens with pitchers Goto, Ueno in clash of generations

Japan Women’s Softball League opens with pitchers Goto, Ueno in clash of generations
In the featured Opening Weekend game, sophomore left-hander Miu Goto outdueled legend Yukiko Ueno, in a pitching matchup that might symbolise a changing of the guard at the top of the Japanese national team pitching staff in the near future.

The Japanese Women’s Softball League (JWSL) opened its 53rd season this past weekend, with all 12 teams seeing action in the shortened campaign. A total of six games were played at Yamato Stadium in Yamato City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. 

The featured matchup to open the season was the contest between the Toyota Motor Red Terriers and defending JWSL champions Bic Camera Bee Queen, which was aired nationwide by BS11 satellite network.

The Red Terriers sent 19-year-old Miu Goto into the circle. The left-handed pitcher led Japan to a silver medal in last year's WBSC U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup and is in her second year of pro ball. Her counterpart was Japanese veteran Yukiko Ueno, the two-time Olympic medallist that guided Japan to gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

On Sunday, Goto outpitched Ueno in a game that ended with a 10-1 win for the Red Terriers. The lefty worked three innings and allowed only one run -- a solo shot in the first inning off the bat of Yuka Ichiguchi. It was the only hit she surrendered in the game. Ueno was tagged for six runs over four innings and was charged with the loss, as the student taught a lesson to the master.

Goto, who was only seven years old when Ueno made 413 pitches in two days to help Japan win softball gold at the 2008 Olympics, is already in consideration for a spot on Japan's Tokyo 2020 pitching staff. In February, she was part of the Japanese squad that won the Australia Pacific Cup. Based on her current trajectory, Goto could develop into the ace of the national team rotation in the near future, and take the baton from 38-year-old Ueno.

International flavour in the opening weekend

The opening weekend of the Japanese Women’s Softball League was also a chance for international players to shine.

SG Holdings Galaxy Stars beat Toda Medics 2-1, in eight innings, with a complete-game performance by Australian lefty Kaia Parnaby. Her countrywoman Stacey Porter hit third and played first base for the winning team. US pitcher Jordan Taylor was tagged with the loss.

Mexican Dallas Escobedo started for Toyota Shokki Shining Vega and was charged with the loss in a complete game effort against Taiyo Yuden Solfille, with Japanese national team pitcher Yamato Fujita in the circle. The game finished 3-1.

Czech ace Veronika Peckova worked in relief for Toyota Motor Red Terriers, while US Abbey Cheek hit a three-run walk-off home run for Hitachi Sundiva in a 3-0 win over Honda Reverta.