DODDS Japan baseball, softball teams square off
March 27, 2013
Opportunity appears to be a common thread for many a Pacific baseball and softball team hoping to use this weekend as a stage to showcase their abilities and chances on the Far East stage in May.
Start with the DODDS Japan softball team, and defending champion Nile C. Kinnick. The Red Devils came up short in last year’s Far East Division I Tournament, and were left out of the inter-area series of games at Yokota two weeks ago, so coach Katrina Kemper wants to make the most of DODDS Japan, also at Yokota.
“We’re anticipating we’ll win this tournament again,” said Kemper, whose Red Devils, riding the arms of Grace Huezo and Kelly Osterbrink, are 8-0 against DODDS opposition so far.
“We would have loved to have had the chance to see what we could do against the Okinawa teams,” Kemper said. “We’re hitting the ball. That’s why we’re winning. We had a good start last year, but we didn’t roll at the end. If we keep hitting, we’ll have a good year.”
Kinnick goes up against host Yokota, Robert D. Edgren, Matthew C. Perry, E.J. King and reigning D-II champion Zama American in the three-day combined D-I/DII event at Headley Field. Play began Thursday afternoon and concludes Saturday at 6 p.m.
Concurrently, the DODDS Japan baseball tournament started Thursday at Bandy Field, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, and Yokota, which lost twice to Kubasaki March 15-16 at Yokota but has won everything else, is also optimistic about its chances, coach Steven Ferch said.
“We fell under a lucky star,” he said of a team that welcomed Edgren transfer right-hander Leo Austin and brothers Jacob and John Mansberger from the States to a team already featuring talents such as Kei DePontbriand.
“With all the boys who came in combined with the group coming back, they gel well together. We’re very pleased. We haven’t played everybody yet. We’re going in blind, but we’re going in with guns loaded and get ready to play some ball.”
Among D-II teams at the tournament, Perry coach Frank Macias says he’s looking forward to the battle with tournament host Zama with its blend of talented freshmen and veterans. “That will be a litmus test for us,” said Macias, whose Samurai lost three to Yokota but have won everything else.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Macias said. “Our batting has come alive and our pitching has been better than I thought it would be. I’m looking forward to see how we measure up against the small schools.”
Just happy to get on the field at all because of the late start to the DODDS Korea season due to weather and field availability, Osan American’s softball team, for one, is itching for its first real competition at Daegu on Friday.
“We’ve been practicing and putting in some hard work,” said first-year coach Bryan Morrisey, adding he went to Yongsan Garrison some time ago and watched Seoul American’s teams play Korean schools, a luxury that the Cougars don’t have. “I think we’ll show up. We’ll be there.”
Korea’s six-week regular season runs until May 11, with Osan, Seoul and Daegu taking turns hosting weekend three-way series.