Hello everyone...I'm a couple days behind getting this posted, but read on and you'll see why!
Our weekend ended up being a little longer than we had planned, but it was worth it. We started our trip on Thursday morning, and since Okayama is at least a 10-hour drive, Natalie, Miyako, Yamane (our pitchers and catcher), and I were allowed to take the bullet train or "shinkansen." That made the trip much easier, as the train ride was only 3-1/2 hours. After arriving in Okayama, we had lunch at a small cafe that serves udon noodles. Udon is a thick noodle, and mine was served in a broth with tofu. It sounds pretty different from anything in the States, but its delicious! We then went straight to practice at a local field with the rest of the team before heading to our hotel. LeoPalace has a hotel location in Okayama, so we were able to take advantage of great accommodations there.
We had our official pre-game practice on Friday at the game field, which still allowed us a little bit of free time afterwards. Natalie and I squeezed in a quick trip to Okayama Castle between practice and dinner. The castle was beautiful, and is known for its unusual black roof.
Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate on Saturday, and our game against Toda had to be postponed. The Sunday game was played as scheduled, so we started with Denso on Sunday afternoon. They were one game ahead of us in the standings, so it was a must-win if we watned to stay in the race for playoffs. Our offense has been amazing all year, and Sunday was no different. We had five different players with RBIs and took a 6-0 lead into the seventh inning. Denso is a great hitting team as well, so they wouldn't make things easy for us. A couple of solid hits, followed by a well-placed bunt and an infield single started their rally and led to three runs. Fortunately, we were able to escape the threat, and came away with the 6-3 win. I pitched all seven innings to earn the victory.
Monday proved to be another exciting game for right up until the end. Toda scored one run in both the fourth and fifth innings to take a 2-0 lead into the seventh. Our shortstop, Kageyama, started off the top of the inning with a single, and with one out, our left fielder, Ono, singled as well. Then our captain and leadoff batter Misato kept things going with a walk to load the bases for one of our veterans, Fujimoto. She was a gold medalist in Beijing, and proved why she's one of the best in the world by hitting her first home run of the season, a grand slam. Yamane finished the game and earned the win, 4-2. It was definitely an exciting weekend, and now after 15 games we've moved into a tie for 4th place:
League Standings as of Sept. 15
Iyo Bank 2-13
We won't play another League game until October 10, but we still have the Japan Cup September 25-27. My family will be arriving in Japan that weekend, so I'm getting very excited to see them! My dad was able to visit this past spring, but it will be a first for both my mom and sister.
Talk to you soon!