Japan managed to breeze by the USA, not once but twice, during the World Cup of Softball. This was Japan’s first win since 2005 when the tournament first began. From 2006 to 2012, the USA has been the continuous victor, winning 6 World Cups.
The final 2013 standings are shown below:
Gold Medal – Japan
Silver Medal – USA
Bronze Medal – Australia
The most valuable player, from my opinion, goes to Yukiko Ueno from Japan. Ueno was fierce on the field; throwing fastballs averaging 72 mph. Players appeared to struggle just getting the bat around in time to hit a pitch. This not surprising since Ueno is the fastest pitcher in the world; having been clocked at 75 mph. To add even more to mix, Ueno was throwing not one but two different levels of off speed pitches. Her off speeds came in at around 51 and 62 mph. Ueno is considered a veteran on the field for Japan. At age 30, Ueno is the oldest and most decorated player on Team Japan. Ueno’s experience has proven to be a great advantage. She clearly has excellent control over every pitch, as she paints the strike zone with curves and drop-balls. One of her most highly recognized wins is over Team USA in the 2008 Olympics. Ueno not only pitched both games against Team USA in the 2013 World Cup but also pitched all 7 innings.
Interesting enough, this may have been a wished granted to Coach Erikson. “United States coach Ken Eriksen said that he hoped Japan used Ueno every game during its stay in Oklahoma City, including any and all against the United States. He was joking, but only in the sense that he knew Japan wouldn’t overburden its ace.” The joke is now on him since Japan did pitch the ace and beat the USA team doing it. Team USA has 12 rookies on the team. This young team has learned a great deal facing such a competitive opponent. There is only room for improvement at this point in the game.
Team USA will be facing Japan again in the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championship in Surrey, B.C., Canada. The teams are scheduled to play on July 17th at 9pm. Stay tuned to see if Japan decides to pitch Ueno again against Team USA!
Photo credit: http://asianwiki.com/Yukiko_Ueno and http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/90612