Hi again everyone…it’s been a crazy couple of weeks for us over here in Japan!
The regular season is officially over. It's been close and dramatic all season, and the last two weekends were no exception. Two weekends ago we played Shionogi and Hitachi Software, and won our first game against Shionogi. We've gone back and forth with Software in the standings all season, and had won our previous two games against them – one being in the Japan Cup, so it didn't count in the standings. Unfortunately they got the best of us in our most recent game, winning 2-1.
We could have clinched a spot in the playoffs with a win, but instead we would have to wait another weekend. We played Toyota and Taiyo Yuden, arguably our toughest weekend of the year, to close the seaon. Toyota was fighting to clinch first place in the overall league standings, and we had a really rough game against them. Shokki ended up losing its game, and Toyota was able to clinch the top spot in the league with the win against us. Going into Sunday we were in a close race for fourth place with Software and Denso. We had secured the tiebreaker against both teams, but in the event of a three-way tie, we would not have the advantage.
It was a very confusing situation, but either way, we really needed to win over Taiyo Yuden. We scored one run in the third inning to take the lead. Yuden's cleanup hitter Tanagawa has had an amazing season in Japan, and unfortunately she continued her campaign to be the league's home run champion by belting a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth.
Luckily we regained the lead soon after when Erina Inoue hit a solo shot of her own to left-center. We faced the heart of their order in the bottom of the seventh, and our second baseman Fujimoto turned a double play to end the game. We celebrated our victory, soon realizing that the Software and Denso games were still not completed and that we needed one team to lose so that a three-way tie did not knock us out of playoffs. Denso had an early lead over Renesas, and we had no information on the Software game, so the hour following our game was a little intense. Everyone stayed outside the bus, mingling with friends and family and awaiting the final word. Eventually it came, and the girls went crazy. I just started cheering, not understanding the exact message, but I could tell it was good news!
We have a weekend off before the playoffs, so we'll spend that time practicing and scrimmaging before heading to Kyoto next Wednesday to prepare for our game. We play third-place finisher Shokki Saturday, while Toyota will play Renesas. The winner of our game will have to play the loser of the other game to advance to the championship game later on Sunday. Toyota and Renesas will have the advantage of having to win just one game to make the championship, since they finished higher in the standings. It’s been an exciting season, and I'm really looking forward to competing in the playoffs.
I’ll let you know how it goes!