(article taken from Softball Australia Web Page)
Japan took Gold at the Brisbane International Softball Challenge with a
*** 4-0 victory over the Australian Institute of Sport.
A three run homer in the top of the first by Noriko Yamaji was a devastating
blow from which the AIS never recovered. Many astute judges are tipping the
two teams to meet for the Gold medal in Sydney due to Japan's improvement
since the 1998 World Championships and Australia's outstanding depth.
AIS pitcher Tanya Harding started the match but was obviously feeling the
effects of last night's epic encounter against Australia. Nothing can be
taken away from Japan though as the pitch Yamaji dispatched over the fence
was a rise ball that was up out of the zone. Yamada went with the pitch in
an amazing display of batting artistry. A semi-warmed up Brooke Wilkins
entered the game and managed to halt the Japanese *** until the sixth
when Kazue Itoh lined a home run over center field. The AIS batters tried
valiantly to pull the margin back but were continually foiled by impressive
Japanese pitcher Ayumi Yamazaki. Yamazaki allowed only two hits to the AIS
and one walk in a disciplined pitching display.
Japan themselves only had three hits but as Australian third base Natalie
Titcume commented, "One hit at this level is all it takes to win a game."
Titcume is one of the believers that Japan will be very difficult to beat in
Sydney, "I class Japan as the most improved team in the world."
Japan's coach Taeko Utsugi was pleased with the victory but is not getting
to carried away. "The Australian's have split their squad for this
tournament so we know we have not beaten the best Australian team this
One can not help but feel that Japan will be a major player in deciding the
medals at the Olympics after the impressive way they went about their
business this week. And while Australia's squad was split in two the
Japanese were without number one pitcher Juri Takayama.
As well as that Yamazaki took out the tournament's Best pitcher award
despite being listed as a catcher in the program?
For all the scores, articles, game highlights, recaps and upcoming
tournaments go to the Softball Australia Website at:
Click on 'International' tab under Competitions.