DODDS-Pacific officials: Obstacles remain for Far East tournaments
April 14, 2009
A DODDS-Japan softball and Kanto Plain baseball tournament inviting teams from outside Japan is a start, but is it enough and should there be a Far East tournament for each?
"We should," Kubasaki senior pitcher Wataru Smiley said. "Other sports have one. Baseball is very popular. It’s America’s and most likely Japan’s national pastime."
But many hurdles must be overcome, DODDS-Pacific Far East Activities Council officials say, before baseball and softball can be added to the FEAC calendar of activities.
Besides money, many other questions, including tournament format, logistics and participation, must be addressed, FEAC chair Don Hobbs said. "There are lots of things we’d have to tackle," he said.
How long would such tournaments last? Would international schools be invited or would it be limited to DODDS-Pacific teams only, as is the case with wrestling, cross country and tennis?
Would there be Class AA and Class A divisions, or would all teams play as one? Then there’s tournament location; not all DODDS-Pacific schools have baseball and softball fields, and must rely on base services.
Some schools play baseball and softball outside of spring; Guam girls softball was played in November and December, while Matthew C. Perry and E.J. King in Japan play baseball in the fall.
Then there’s the availability of the most valued commodity in both sports — pitching.
National Federation of State High School Associations rules limit baseball pitchers to so many innings per 24 hours; the actual limits vary from state to state.
Coupled with the lack of experienced arms at smaller DODDS schools, it’s long been asked by DODDS-Pacific officials if there are enough arms to go around.
Pitching depth and experience, be it in baseball or softball, is always "a year-to-year thing," Kadena softball coach Jesse Costa said.
A softball pitching limit is "something we may need to look at" for things like this weekend’s DODDS-Japan softball tournament, said Nile C. Kinnick coach Danel MacWhyte. None of the DODDS-Pacific leagues have a pitch or inning limit.
The weather could also put a damper on things, especially on Okinawa, where the rainy season begins at mid-May and can last for weeks.
"Rain is always a factor. Baseball and softball are sports that can’t be played in the rain," Seoul American baseball coach Bob Heckerl said.
All of those issues are expected to be discussed at the next FEAC meeting, slated for May 18-19 on Okinawa. "There isn’t a (FEAC) meeting when it isn’t on the agenda," Hobbs said.