Day 11: Dutch Team closes tour with victory|
SENDAI / HIGASHIMATSUSHIMA CITY (Japan) - On Saturday, the Dutch Olympic Softball Team played its last game as part of its preparations for the Olympic Games in Beijing, which opens in six days.
At the Takakinomori Sports Complex in Higashimatsushima City, the Dutch Team played the Tohoku Fukushi University-squad and won the 9-inning game, 2-1 to compile a 17-15 record in exhibition play this year.
Tohoku Fukushi University is a private school, which has some wellknown Japanese alumni, such as politicians Shintaro Ito and Itsunori Onodera, who are both members of the House of Representatives, but also baseball-players Mamoru Kishida (Orix Buffaloes), Takashi Saito (Los Angeles Dodgers), Kazuhiro Sasaki (former reliever of the Seattle Mariners, 2000 Rookie of the Year in the American League) and Kazuhiro Wada (Chunichi Dragons, member of bronze medal-team of the 2004 Olympics in Athens).
The Mustang (their nickname) baseball-team is one of the better teams in the Big Six University League, while the softball-team also belongs to the best in its league.
The Mustang-roster existed of 35 (!) players today, as all players of the four University-teams (Team 1 to 4) were on hand today.
But the players of the main squad were primarily used in this game and were the same who last week played against Canada.
The Mustang-team was a tough opponent, which held the Dutch scoreless for five innings.
After starting pitcher Mayumi Takahashi retired the first eight batters in order, Sandra Gouverneur singled with two outs in the third inning, then Saskia Kosterink walked.
The bases were loaded when Britt Vonk reached on an infield-hit when the two middle-infielders ran into each other. Britt was 2-for-3 today and was the lone Dutch player with two basehits.
The inning ended when a flyout followed.
In the fifth inning, the Dutch got the bases loaded again, but didn't score eithter.
Kristi de Vries led off with a single and advanced on a sac-bunt by Daisy de Peinder.
After a pop-fly, the bases were loaded when Saskia Kosterink walked again and Britt Vonk followed with her second basehit.
But this time, the inning ended with an infield pop-fly.
In the sixth inning, the Dutch team scored twice off new pitcher Yuuko Chounan.
Nathalie Timmermans led off with an infield-hit, then Jolanda Kroesen lined a single into rightfield.
After the two advanced on a sac-bunt by Kim Kluijskens, a foul-out followed, but then Daisy de Peinder followed with a double, just out of reach for the centerfielder, enabling Nathalie and Jolanda to score.
After Sandra Gouverneur walked, the inning ended with a groundout, but the Dutch had taken a 2-0 lead.
In the last three innings, only one Dutch batter would reach base, being Saskia Kosterink with a 2-out bunt-single in the ninth inning.
The Dutch pitching held the Mustang hitless for seven innings.
Starter Kristi de Vries walked two batters in the first inning, but one of them was caught stealing.
With a runner of first base, a grounder ended the first Tohoku-at bat and with that Kristi retired all next 13 batters in a row, she would face, before being relieved in the sixth inning by Rebecca Soumeru, who retired the side, then allowed only one baserunner in the seventh on an error.
This means that from the first inning on, 17 batters were retired in order and only one player reached base in the second through seventh inning.
Judith van Kampen became the third Dutch pitcher in the eighth inning and gave up a lead-off single to Mai Kasuhari, whose pinch-runner Maya Sugawara later scored the lone Mustang-run on a single by Nana Ishida.
Before scoring, Sugawara advanced to third base after rightfielder Jolanda Kroesen made a great shoestring-catch.
The inning ended with a groundout by Judith herself, who then retired the side in the ninth to earn a save.
Box Score Game vs. Tohoku Fukushi University
Back in the hotel, there was a press conference organized by the Sports Promotion Section of the Planning and Community Affairs Bureau for the City of Sendai, so 'our' Fifth Floor at the Koyo Grand Hotel was transformed into a pressroom.
Head Coach Liz Kelly and players Saskia Kosterink and Daisy de Peinder addressed the media.
Coach Kelly acknowledged the excellent staff and food at the Koyo Grand Hotel during our stay here and also the great training facility at Aoba-Ku.
,,It has been an enjoyable time preparing for the Olympics'', Coach Kelly said.
Daisy and Saskia both said that playing in the Olympics was ''a dream come true''.
,,We started a long time ago and now we will be there'', Daisy said.
Saskia added: ,,We worked hard and have a good team. There will be a high level of softball in Beijing, but we will play every game to win. Since we will be the underdog, the other teams first have to beat us. So let them try!''
Talking about the City of Sendai, where the team stayed, all three said that is was an impressive city, which was clean and has very polite people.
Regarding softball being played at the Olympics for the last time at this moment, Saskia said:
,,That's sad. You must have a dream, a goal to play at the highest level. But softball will be coming back in the Olympic Games.''
Daisy: ,,Softball has to be in the Olympics, it's the best game in the world''.
For the remainder of the day, the team was off.
Sunday will be a day off for the team, which will attend a game of the professional baseball-team Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the evening.
The Golden Eagles are playing in the Pacific League, one of the two leagues in Nippon Professional Baseball (which is the equivalent of the American Major League).
On Sunday, the regular season resumes again, after it had been interrupted for the two annual All Star Games, which were being played in Osaka and Yokohama.
After arriving on the sports complex, the bags were driven to the field
The players and staff enter the Takakinomori Sports Complex
Head Coach Liz Kelly announces the starting line-up
Today's Umpire Crew:
Masakazu Sato (HP), Akihiko Madono (2B), Tomoyoshi Abe (1B),
Mitsunori Kanno (back-up 3B) and Zempu Abe (3B)
Players of the Mustang prepare the field before the game
A view in the Dutch dug-out
The Dutch team in action vs. Tohoku Fukushi University
Sandra Gouverneur singles in the third inning
Daisy de Peinder puts down a sac-bunt in the fifth inning
In the next at bat, Daisy drove in two runs with a double
Britt Vonk singles in the fifth at
Britt 2-for-3 in today's game
Players of youth baseball-teams watch the Dutch team in action
Winning Pitcher Kristi de Vries delivers a pitch
Petra van Heijst swings in the seventh at bat
In the front is 1B Coach Mary-Ann Hatt
Afterwards, the teams thank each other for the game
The Dutch Team and the Tohoku Fukushi University Mustang pose together
Marloes Fellinger with the Tohoku-players
Jolanda Kroesen, Nathalie Timmermans and Rebecca Soumeru give autographs
Britt Vonk and Petra van Heijst also sign their names
The Japanese landscape on our way back to the hotel
Yoshiaki Shimizu, the Assistant Director of the Sports Promotion Section of the Planning and
Community Affairs Bureau for the City of Sendai, opens the Press Conference
in the Koyo Grand Hotel
Journalists listen to the Dutch statements and answers
Head Coach Liz Kelly, Daisy de Peinder and Saskia Kosterink
talk with the Japanese media; Interpreter Hami Ueda sits in the back
Let's have another look to the beauty of the Koyo Grand Hotel
This is a view from the Second Floor to the Lobby
As mentioned a few days ago, there is a lot of art and sculptures in this hotel,
like this ancient globe
There are three Banquet Halls on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Floor,
but the Second Floor is dedicated to weddings and even has a Wedding Chapel
On the Second floor, there also is a complete (wedding) photo studio and the brides
can purchase wedding gowns
On 'our' Fifth Floor, Judith van Kampen, Kim Kluijskens,
Sandra Gouverneur, Daisy de Peinder and Marjan Smit
watch a movie in our private cinema
Go back to the schedule of the Japan Tour