“I’m nervous, but I’m excited.”
Pitcher Lee Ji-suk (22), who has been in his third year with the national team, is the pitcher that national team coach Yang Sang-moon picked as an ace. Stable control is a strong point. Lee Ji-suk is highly likely to pitch as a starting pitcher in the Asian Cup.
The correct name of Sayuri (18),메이저놀이터 whom the national team players affectionately call “Yuri,” is Sayuri Ono. As his name suggests, Sayuri is a dual citizen of Korea and Japan, and his father is Japanese. Sayuri’s Korean isn’t perfect, but there’s no problem with his communication. The Taegeuk mark on his chest is always considered an honor.
Yujin Lee (17) is a sophomore in high school. Together with Sayuri, she has been on the national team for the second year following last year. Her dream goal is to win against Japan, the world’s No. 1 player in women’s baseball.
Lee Ji-sook is a college student. However, in order to focus on her favorite baseball, she took a leave of absence this semester to show her performance not to be ashamed of at the Taegeuk mark.
The decision to take a leave of absence is significant for college students. During this period, you can leave for language training or work part-time to save money. Alternatively, you can do an internship to explore your career path or study for entrance exams. Jisook Lee put all of this aside and chose her Taegeuk mark. Because she is the most precious dream of all.
Lee Ji-sook said, “She felt like she would regret it if she didn’t challenge for the national team. So she challenged and she fortunately passed the selection and put her Taegeuk mark on her,” she said. She tells him that this year is different. Because she has an international competition in 4 years. Lee Ji-suk said, “
Lee Ji-suk is the third pitcher among eight pitchers, after Kim Bo-mi (34) and Choi Song-hee (31). She’s still only in her early twenties, but she has five younger pitching brothers in their late teens under her. Lee Ji-sook, who says she is “learning leadership from her older sisters,” is the next pitching assistant manager. She said, “I want the national team to achieve good results this time and create a platform for young women’s baseball players to grow.”
Sayuri was originally an overhand pitcher, but changed her pitching form to an underhand pitcher last year as advised by national team pitching coach Jeong Yong-un. Sayuri is not a pitcher who hits batters with force. Therefore, Coach Jung advised that women’s baseball players change to underhand to differentiate themselves from underhanders, and Sayuri readily accepted.
Fortunately, the new pitching form was well installed, and the pitch, which was shaken for a while due to the change in pitching form, was caught. As a result, she was proudly selected for the 2023 national team’s 8-member pitching staff. Sayuri said, “I’m nervous ahead of the international competition. But he is also excited to compete with players from other countries,” she laughed.
She attends school during the week and trains for the varsity team all day on the weekends. The days are getting more and more exhausting as she parallels her studies and training. On Monday, the day after training, she sleeps like crazy, she says. However, Sayuri smiled and said, “It’s hard, but it’s fun, and I’m happy to grow among the best baseball players in Korea.”
Lee Yu-jin said, “Since I was little, I grew up watching the national team seniors compete. I am so honored and grateful that I can now stand in that position,” she said, revealing her overwhelming emotions.
Lee Yoo-jin came to her national team and her day by day is growing. He said, “She didn’t have good command before, but she improved a lot as she received systematic training in the national team. Previously, he thought that he could get good control if he only went into the middle, but after he came to the national team, he realized that it was important to get into the corner of the strike zone. It got better as I cared about it and practiced it.”
Lee Yu-jin said she hoped the national team would follow the path of women’s volleyball, which wrote a semifinal myth at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago. He clenched his fist, saying, “Women’s volleyball has become more popular after the Tokyo Olympics, and I will do my best to make it more popular by showing good results and touching stories.”
Lastly, the three players revealed the moment they wanted to enjoy in the international competition. Lee Ji-sook said, “I want to strike out with a fastball going into the course. My romance,” she said. Sayuri hoped, “I’m probably going to pitch as a relief pitcher, but whether I’m winning or losing, I want to keep a scoreless point at the moment I go up.” Lee Yu-jin said, “I haven’t decided on a position yet, but I want to defend my victory by mainly pitching in crisis situations.”
The women’s baseball team led by coach Yang Sang-moon will depart for Hong Kong on the 24th and start the Asian Cup (BFA) on the 26th. After playing the first game against Japan on the 26th, on the 27th, we will play the group stage 3 against the countries that passed Group B, and finally the Philippines on the 28th. The top two teams in the group stage will advance to the Super Round and play a medal match.