Defending champions Japan announce #APC2019 squad

Credit: Sam Donkin Photography

Defending champions Japan announce #APC2019 squad

Inaugural Asia Pacific Cup champions Japan have named a relatively unchanged squad as they attempt to win back-to-back titles at Blacktown International Sportspark from 31 January – 3 February.

In 2018, Japan was a dominant winner and Team Leader Shinsuke Yabata says the squad will remain similar after such a strong performance 12 months ago. Amongst them are 2018’s Asia Pacific Cup Best Pitcher Yukari Hamamura and the Most Valuable Player Natsuko Sagama.

“We haven’t made any big changes to the team, our younger pitchers gained a lot of confidence after last year’s Asia Pacific Cup,” said Yabata.

Ranked at number two in the WBSC World Rankings, Japan stifled their competition in the Asia Pacific Cup, allowing only two runs against them during the entire tournament including a 3 – 0 scoreline against the Travelodge Aussie Spirit in last year’s final.

Yabata says Japan’s competition can expect much of the same after investigating how they can improve on their stellar defence.

“With only two runs conceded for the entire competition, we evaluated our pitchers’ toughness as well as fielders’ resulting overall in our defence improving further.”

The Asia Pacific Cup presents Japan, Australia, China, Chinese Taipei and New Zealand an early opportunity to fine tune their respective international squads early in 2019.

In Japan’s case, every international fixture in the next 12 months is crucial as they host the return of softball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“We think playing at international tournaments is very important,” added Yabata.

“As an Olympic hosting country we have pressure on us to perform well, we’re looking forward to playing against high-quality opposition for the valuable experience.”

Softball Australia is set to announce the Travelodge Aussie Spirit and Australia A teams following this week’s 72nd Women’s National Softball Championship from 5-11 January at Mirrabooka International Softball Stadium, WA.

For live scores and results from WA, visit softball.org.au.

Japan Softball Association team

  • 25        Haruka Agatsuma – Catcher
  • 20        Chiharu Aoki – Catcher
  • 12        Mana Atsumi – Infielder
  • 3          Mikiko Eguchi – Outfielder
  • 16        Fujita Yamato – Pitcher
  • 15        Yukari Hamamura – Pitcher
  • 8          Nodoka Harada – Outfielder
  • 4          Yuka Ichiguchi – Infielder
  • 18        Misaki Katsumata – Pitcher
  • 10        Hitomi Kawabata – Infielder
  • 14        Minori Naito – Infielder
  • 35        Miki Nakamura – Pitcher
  • 23        Kana Nakano – Pitcher
  • 22        Nana Okamura – Pitcher
  • 29        Nozomi Ozaki – Pitcher
  • 19        Natsuko Sugama – Infielder
  • 26        Akiko Suhara – Outfielder
  • 5          Yu Yamamoto – Infielder
  • 2          Saki Yamazaki – Outfielder

Coaching Staff

  • Shinsuke Yabata – Team Leader
  • Reika Utsugi – Head Coach
  • Lucy Casarez – Assistant Coach
  • Miwa Tanoue – Assistant Coach
  • Naoko Yanagawa – Managing Staff
  • Hiromi Tsukahara – Equipment
  • Yoko Ambe – Trainer
  • Masami Mitsumoto – Trainer
  • Takuya Endo – Supporting Staff
  • Aizawa Kaori – Interpreter

About the Asia Pacific Cup
From Thursday 31 January – Sunday 3 February 2019, Blacktown International Sportspark will host the second annual Asia Pacific Cup.

This world-class, international event will showcase some of the best softball players in the world, from Italy, China, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and defending champions Japan, up against the Travelodge Aussie Spirit stars.

The four days will showcase some incredible talent with a few mouthwatering match-ups over the first three days of the tournament.

Grab your tickets today for a fun day out watching some of the world’s greatest softball stars!

Tickets available through Eventbrite starting from just $10.00 with ages 18 and under admitted for free, head to Eventbrite and book your spot today.

Purchase tickets here.