Japan All-Star Series
August 4-7, 2023
Iwakuni, Japan | Kizuma Stadium (Game 1)
Fukushima, Japan | Azuma Stadium (Game 2)
Yokohama, Japan | Yokohama Stadium (Game 3)
Representing 12 NCAA Division I universities from the 2023 season, the Japan All-Star Series roster highlights top collegiate athletes from across the country with the back-to-back National Champions – Oklahoma Sooners – tabbing three athletes to the roster, followed by Stanford and UCLA with two athletes apiece. Also represented with one athlete on the squad is Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Texas, UCF and Washington.
The 16-player squad includes seven veterans from former Team USA rosters – four of which will make their debut on a WNT roster after leading the JWNT to gold at the 2021 U-18 WBSC World Championship. Also highlighting the squad are nine rookies who will represent the Red, White and Blue for the first time in their careers.
At the helm of the U.S. WNT collegiate roster is head coach John Rittman and assistant coaches Brian Kolze, Chris Malveaux and Mike Roberts.
|Stadium – Location
|Friday, August 4
|7 p.m. JST / 5 a.m. CT
|Kizuma Stadium – Iwakuni, Japan
|W, 12-11 (8) | Box Score
|Sunday, August 6
|2 p.m. JST / 12 a.m. CT
|Azuma Stadium – Fukushima, Japan
|L, 1-6 | Box Score
|Monday, August 7
|7 p.m. JST / 5 a.m. CT
|Yokohama Stadium – Yokohama, Japan
|L, 0-1 | Box Score
USA 12, Japan 11 (8 innings)
The world-ranked No. 1 U.S. Women’s National Team (WNT) opened the 2023 Japan All-Star Series in thrilling fashion, sealing a 12-11 extra inning victory to kick off the three-game series in the win column. A true team effort from both sides of the field, the U.S. offense totaled 17 hits in the win while the pitching staff showed its depth with NiJaree Canady, Ruby Meylan and Valerie Cagle each contributing in the circle.
One of six athletes getting their debut in the Red, White and Blue in today’s opening game was Canady who got the start on the rubber for Team USA while temporarily handing duties over to Meylan in the bottom of the fifth and Cagle in the bottom of the sixth before taking back the reigns for the final seven outs of the game. Together, the three U.S. pitchers retired 10 batters via a strikeout with Canady leading the pack behind seven Ks and five scoreless innings.
The U.S. offense came to play, combining for an impressive 17 hits in the win – including four long balls off the bats of Megan Grant (2), Cagle (1) and Jayda Kearney (1). A force throughout the entire lineup, nine U.S. batters recorded at least one hit in the win while five recorded a multi-hit game. Grant led the Eagles at the plate with a 4-for-6 performance, including two singles and two home runs, followed by Cagle (3-for-6) and Kearney (2-for-5).
USA 1, Japan 6
World-ranked No. 1 Team USA came up short in game two of the Japan All-Star Series, falling 6-1 to No. 2 Japan to even the series 1-1 for tomorrow’s finale contest. Over 4,000 fans filled the seats at today’s game, which was held at Azuma Stadium – host of the Tokyo 2020 Softball Olympic Games.
The U.S. offense struggled to come alive in today’s matchup with a combined five hits on the day, four of which came off the bats of Hannah Gammill (2) and Erin Coffel (2) in addition to a solo hit from Jada Cody. Alana Vawter got the start in the circle for the Eagles – the first of her Team USA career – tossing 4.2 innings before handing things over to Ruby Meylan in the top of the fifth. Together, the two totaled five strikeouts while keeping the Japan offense off the board for a combined 4 innings.
Taking an early lead in the top of the first, Team Japan held on to a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the third when the U.S. evened the score thanks to a leadoff double from Gammill paired with an RBI single from Coffel. The Japan offense quickly broke the tie in the top of the fourth, stringing together a pair of base hits and a fielders choice to pull ahead, 3-1. After a quiet inning from the U.S. offense, Team Japan tacked on three more in the top of the fifth to extend its lead, 6-1. Despite putting runners on in the final three innings, the Eagles were unable to muster any runs – falling 6-1 to Team Japan.
USA 0, Japan 1
The U.S. Women’s National Team fell short in the 2023 Japan All-Star Series finale held today at Yokohama Stadium, suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to Team Japan to finish the series with a 1-2 record. A typical matchup between the world-ranked No. 1 and No. 2 squads, the seven-inning contest came down to the final three outs thanks to stellar defensive performances from both sides.
The U.S. pitching staff of Valerie Cagle and NiJaree Canady limited the Japan offense to four hits, while combining for seven K’s – six of which came from the arm of Canady after coming in for relief in the bottom of the third. Cagle came out strong, keeping Japan off the board through the first at-bat but was challenged in the bottom of the second as Japan pushed across its lone run of the game. Taking advantage of a one-out walk and a double to the outfield, Japan took a 1-0 lead, but was quickly shut down with a relay from Alex Honnold to Erin Coffel after attempting an extra base. The U.S. defense managed to silence Japan throughout the remainder of the game, while working to find its groove on offense.
A quiet day at the plate for the Eagles, Cagle and Taylor Pleasants recorded the lone hits of the game while Hannah Gammill reached base on a hit-by-pitch in the top of the seventh but was caught in a double play to force the 1-0 loss for Team USA.
Signifying as a push for the continued growth and development of the sport of softball, the Japan All-Star Series welcomed over 15,000 fans across the three games held in three different Japanese cities – Iwakuni, Fukushima and Yokohama. At the conclusion of games two and three, Team USA and Team Japan gathered for a photo to signify the hopes and dreams of each athlete on the field – to be a part of the LA28 Olympic Games.