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Team Report

2nd IBAF 15U Baseball World Cup Training Camp in Review


2nd IBAF 15U Baseball World Cup   Training Camp in Review

In anticipation of the '2nd IBAF 15U Baseball World Cup' to be held in Mexico from July 31st to August 10th (local time), a three-day training camp was held in Chiba starting on the 26th. Out of the roughly 36,000 players on 1500 teams in 5 leagues of domestic junior high baseball, these young Samurai Japan players were selected after tryouts were held in four locations in Japan.

On the 25th, once the press conference in the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum came to a close, the players appeared together for the first time as Samurai Japan in an inaugural meeting held in the city that evening.
Players showing a tinge of nervousness being around teammates they will play with for the first time.
But on the following day, the moment those players put their arms through the sleeves of the 'JAPAN' uniform for the first day of training camp at Narita City in Chiba, their expressions changed completely.
Players started calling out to each other, sometimes smiling and complimenting teammates' play during practices.
They were also seen listening carefully to advice from successful and experienced coaches, as well as watching the play of their sometime-partner sometime-rival teammates in the hopes of learning something new.

For this tournament, Mr. Yoshitaka Katori has taken up the role of manager to lead the Samurai Japan 15U club. In the 80s and 90s, he played mainly as a relief pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants and the Seibu Lions, winning titles such as the Best Relief Pitcher. Manager Katori's fame spread as one of the representative pitchers of his generation.
After retiring as a player, he continued to steadily build up accomplishments as a coach, going up against the world as pitching coach for Japan in the 2006 First World Baseball Classic. Last year, he acted as manager in the 15U Asian Challenge Match and so has considerable experience with leading teams to championships in international play.

One of the coaches assisting Mr. Katori will be coach Takeshi Kimura (All Japan Young Baseball League) who won consecutive championships at Koshien in spring and summer with Wakayama's Minoshima High School and the participated with Seibu Lions. Also, coach Ryosuke Itoh, manager in charge of guiding the legendary middle school baseball team, Kodaira Ponies (Japan Pony Baseball League), has also taken up a coaching position.
Coach Itoh offered the comment that 'Manager Katori makes instant, accurate decisions when he's in charge, so we coaches have to always be ready to see what he's thinking and be ready to move to support him.'
The brains of the outfit are already highly coordinating their efforts, making it easy on the players to relax and just play.

During the press conference on the 25th, manager Katori made it a point to say:
'These players should look at baseball across the world, and absorb what they can about where they aren't good enough and where they are. I intend to do my best to get results, aiming to make every age group of Samurai Japan number one in the world.' But the players were already of the same mind as they walked into training camp.

It's immediately clear that the players have worked hard to build up their bodies and develop their individual skills for the tournament before coming together as a team to represent Japan. Even manager Katori commented on their level, peering out and saying:
'Being selected to represent Japan probably opened their eyes a bit. It's obvious watching their movements that they definitely have been practicing and training up to today.'
The players themselves, while relishing the joy and pride of wearing the Hinomaru, often commented that they 'want to play my best as a representative of Japan' and were seen with stern faces working hard to the end of practices at training camp even in the midst of a summer heat wave with consecutive days over 30 degrees Celsius.

Alongside those representative members, manager Katori said:
'I would like these players to get a lot of experience. I think, that for them, it will be the most important thing from this. Naturally, going into an international tournament at this age will leave many memories. I myself have all the experiences I had as a player stored up in my head, so that happens, and it can be passed on to younger players or the next generation. I think nothing is more important that getting experience and passing it on to the next generation.

Also, manager Katori considers this tournament, which is the first for players 15 or younger playing as a team, a particularly important one for strengthening the vertical pipelines in the baseball world.
'The various age group tournaments have just been introduced, but I think they will help Samurai Japan develop deeper connections across generations from here on. And each age group will develop its own guidebook, so that will develop laterally and basically lead to a strengthening across all of Japanese baseball.'
As can be gathered from manager Katori's passion, Japan's baseball world is about to take a big step, right here.

The Japan 15U team is driving forward to face Mexico on the night of the 28th, after 3 days of training camp.
The first game will be at 4:00pm on the 31st (local time), at Mexico's Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, against South Africa. The first round will consist of 5 games, while the second round will consist of 4 games to determine who plays in the finals.
The finals begin at 6:00pm, August 10th (local time).
The first 'IBAF 15U Baseball World Cup' that Japan has participated in.
Japan's 15U club, led by manager Katori, shoulders the hope of Japan's baseball world as it goes out to grab its first championship.

Players sound off before heading into the tournament!

(#14 Yudai Tada)

My selling point is running (stealing) bases. While proving my power to the world, I'm shooting for us to be best in the world.

(#13 Katsuhiro Kobayashi)

My selling point is my changeup after I've gotten a lefty batter into a jam. I will get a gold medal.

(#15 Keito Takeuchi)

My selling point is taking firm control of the mound. I'm grateful for the gift of being able to play baseball as a representative of Japan. I will play the best that I can, and really show some spirited play.

(#16 Taisei Chiwata)

My selling point is control. I'm aiming for the championship with total team baseball.

(#17 Ryoma Akie)

My selling point is my straight pitch and the cut of my sliders. I want to do what I can and try to play in a way that contributes to a championship.

(#18 Genta Takai)

My selling point is the terror of my straight pitch and the cut of my changeup. I'd like to make a solid contribution to Samurai Japan and then bring that experience back to my team and help raise my team's level.

(#19 Masaki Kaminakao)

My selling point is cashing in on chances as a batter, and inside and straight pitches as a pitcher. I want to contribute to the team and become number one in the world with everyone.

(#11 Ren Hirashima)

My selling point is probably staying calm and not getting anxious during a pinch. There are such great players assembled here on Samurai Japan, so I'll be working to get us a championship.

(#12 Yohei Takekuma)

My selling point is strong batting. We will be number one.

< h5 class="sst">(#20 Hisashige Iwamoto)

My selling point is slugging and strong arms. I want to play my game with any opponent in the world and show my slugging powers.

(#2 Ryuto Tsuhara)

My selling point is catching and a strong arm. I'll be showing my arm off to the world while going for number one.

(#9 Masato Owada)

My selling point is control as a pitching. When I'm in the field, I want to help the team by solid ball control on defense. For other teams that want to play a brute strength game, I want to win playing a brute strength game.

(#10 Koki Chikamoto)

My selling point is speaking up loudly to get the team going. Since I've been chosen as a member of Samurai Japan, I'll be shooting for number one in the world.

(#3 Nobuya Osone)

My selling point is my speed from catch to throw. I'm looking forward to coming back home as number one in the world.

(#5 Fuga Kaburagi)

My selling point is slugging. Every hit counts as I try to be player that can compete on an international level.

(#6 Taiki Kato)

My selling point is the balance between my fielding and batting. I hope to play and role and get good results (world champions). I want to bring good news when I come back to Japan.

(#4 Kazuya Murata)

My selling point is running and fielding. I'd love to show a gold medal to everyone back home. I want to show the world how I can run.

(#1 Shu Masuda)

My selling point is ball speed and my arm. I'm going to give my everything playing with these members and shoot for number one.

(#7 Kensei Saitoh)

My selling point is aggressiveness in the batter's box. I'm aiming for us to be number one in the world.

(#8 Hayato Nishiura)

My selling point is a wide angles I can hit to and the wide area I can cover on defense. I'm working hard so we can be number one in the world.


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