Youth baseball players learn from professionals
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- The pitcher fires a fastball over the plate, hoping to sneak in an early strike, but the batter blasts the ball into a gap in the outfield and sprints around the bases.
Japanese professional baseball players from the Nippon Professional Baseball League held a baseball clinic at Camp Hansen Jan. 19 for young Japanese and American baseball players.
The clinic was held to advance the techniques of the young baseball players attending, according to Col. Stephen B. Lewallen Jr. the commanding officer of III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.
Attendees included seven Okinawa and American youth baseball teams.
“This is a great opportunity for the youth players to advance their skills and interact with other teams in a positive way,” said Tetsuya Ikehara, the coach for the Kin Town Victory Kids.
The youth baseball teams practiced their batting, pitching and fielding techniques during the clinic.
“The clinic was very fun,” said Banna Ginoza, a player for the Victory Kids. “I learned a lot from the (professional baseball players) and hope to be able to use what I learned in future games.”
The youth players spent several hours advancing their abilities to make them better baseball players for the future.
“The children who attended were very talented,” said Shota Ishimine, a professional baseball player for the Chiba Lotte Marines. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play professionally in the near future.”
A closing ceremony was held at the conclusion of the clinic to thank the professional players for coming out and passing on their knowledge and experience to the youth baseball players.
“We are hoping to make this an annual event to help strengthen the relationship with the local teams and help youth players who want to become professionals better their skills,” said Lewallen.
With friendships formed, the teams left with confidence that their newly gained skills will help better them in future games.
“It was a great experience for everyone,” said Ikehara. “Events like this not only strengthen the relationship between us and the Americans, but it also strengthens the motivation of the young players. This is our first interaction with the American teams and after speaking with the other coaches, it won’t be our last.”