CHATAN, OKINAWA, Japan --
Okinawa has about 20 fast-pitch softball teams with members being in the 13 to 15-age range. One of the teams from a local junior high school played against Americans, April 2.
The American Legion Fast Pitch Softball team, newly established last January, reached out to Chatan-Bitou Junior High Schools combined softball team about a month prior. Reina Rogers, a graduate of Chatan Junior High School and now a pitcher of American Legion, became the bridge between Japanese teams and her own. She contacted her former team members for this game while they were practicing at their school.
The American Legion Fast Pitch Softball Team consists of female children ages 9-18 that are associated with military members serving in Okinawa.
Chatan-Bitou junior high softball team ranked third in Okinawa prefectural Women's Junior High School Rookie Softball Tournament in January. They recently went to mainland Japan for a higher-level tournament.
"I want my players to test their strengths and weaknesses," said Viktoria Hubberstey, the coach of American Legion fast-pitch softball team. She wanted her players to learn from the local players.
According to Hubberstey, the play styles are different due to rules that vary federation to federation in the U.S. However, if they want to advance in the future, she wants them to learn from Japanese teams which follow the rules to meet the Olympics.
"They play differently, like the pitching style is one example," said Kokone Tsuha, the captain of Chatan-Bitou team. "We can learn from them. Also we can practice bringing out more of our weaknesses and strengths while we play with them."
Morihiko Inamine, a coach of the Chatan Junior High School softball team, said playing against Americans was a good opportunity for the students. He likes the idea of his team playing in different atmospheres because they might feel nervous but need to overcome the situations.