17-year old Eri Yoshida made her official debut tonight against the Osaka Gold Villicanes. She entered the game in the 9th with a 5-0 lead.
Yoshida walked the first batter she faced (number 5 hitter Yosuke Hiramatsu) on 4 straight pitches. Hiramatsu then stole second, setting up a "runner on second and no out" situation. But she bore down and struck out the next batter, pinch hitter Takayuki Furuya.
Hiroshi Nakada (the manager) removed Yoshida after that.
Yoshida's final line:
0.1 IP, 1 BB, 1 SO, 9 pitches
11,000 fans were in the stands for the opening day game.
Eri Yoshida quote:
"I tried not to think about anything and just went out and threw the ball. The results weren't great, but I love the ballpark, and it was great to have the fans cheering for me. I'll continue to work hard so that I can throw more; I want to become a pitcher the team can rely on."
Hiroshi Nakada quote:
"It was a great opening day. Tetsuya Nishikawa and Eri Yoshida pitched and Tsukasa Kozono finished off the game. The line-up did a nice job scoring runs and the relief pitchers made my job a lot easier."
A few more tidbits:
- 7 TV cameras and 50 members of the media were present at a press conference after the game.
- Eri Yoshida is set to make another appearance on April 5th (opening day at home vs the Akashi Red Soldiers). There is still some concern about her elbow so depending on how things work out, her appearance could be pushed back.
- She has the nickname: "Knuckleball Princess."
- Her fastball touched 99km/h.