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DODEA-Japan titles on the line this weekend

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 20, 2017

Matthew C. Perry baseball has come oh, so tantalizingly close, yet oh, so frustratingly far from its ultimate goals the past few seasons since coach Frank Macias came on board: Win a DODEA-Japan and a Far East Division II Tournament title.

With the memory of their 16-0 DODEA-Japan defeat last April 23 still fresh in their minds, the Samurai’s pitching triad of seniors Chad Schuch and Peace Gates and junior Garrett Macias head to Misawa Air Base, hoping to make amends for that defeat, the elder Macias said.

“We’re playing well and we continue to improve,” Macias said, noting that his pitching combination puts the Samurai (7-0 this season with one tie) in good position in any tournament. Schuch, in particular, has done well – 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 16 innings.

“The way Chad is pitching … that kid is tough,” Macias said of Schuch, who’s also batting .611, just behind team leader Garrett Macias (.636). He has 15 RBIs and Schuch has 11.

“We’ll see,” the elder Macias said. “I’m excited where we’re at; we’ve positioned well at this point. Hopefully, it’s a good weekend for us.”

The DODEA-Japan tournaments began Thursday, with baseball hosted by Robert D. Edgren, girls soccer and softball at Zama and boys soccer at Perry.

All tournaments except baseball are combined pool play and single elimination; baseball is strictly round robin with just five teams, since E.J. King does not have a baseball team this season.

In girls soccer, Nile C. Kinnick returns to defending its title and has just missed in the last two Far East Division I Tournament finals. But the Red Devils find themselves in full rebuild mode, having lost five players the last two seasons who combined for 114 goals.

After starting the season 0-4-1, including the Devils’ first loss to E.J. King, Kinnick has won its last two matches and coach Nico Hindie hopes the team has begun to find the winning track.

“They always find themselves doing well in this tournament,” Hindie said. “The girls’ focus is winning that title and bringing it back home.”

But that might be easier said than done, given the firepower present on two-time defending Far East Division II Tournament champion Yokota with its three super juniors, Jamia Bailey, Gina Dukat and Ai Robbins; and Zama and Perry with their star scorers Amanda Stephens and Bobbi Hill.

“The league has improved. Teams have gotten a lot better,” Hindie said. “So it’s going to be a fight for all.”

Perry, which has won the Far East D-II boys title five straight years and six of the last seven, might also find a fight on its hands with Yokota, the team the Samurai beat last year for the title. Perry’s Kai Lange and Yokota’s Dylan Grimes enter the weekend with 13 goals each.

The softball diamond should also see its fill of batting firepower, with Zama seniors Ally Chiarenza and Ayumi Davis; Yokota newcomers Irene and Adrianna Diaz; Edgren veteran Brittany Crown; and E.J. King’s Julianna Betancourt and Shiona Lonesky.

Action continues until about 5 p.m. Saturday.

Tournament play is not limited to teams in Japan. Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s girls soccer teams head to American School In Japan’s soccer festival Friday and Saturday. The host Mustangs won the event last spring.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

Twitter: @ornauer_stripes

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