Taiwanese 'trailblazers' join Japan's women's pro baseball league
Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) For the first time, Taiwanese players are entering the Japan Women's Baseball League (JWBL), as three of them on Sunday joined two teams in the professional league after successful tryouts.
Pitcher/infielder Hsieh Yu-ying (謝鈺瀅) and outfielder Shen Chia-wen (沈嘉文) will play for the Kyoto Flora, while pitcher/outfielder Tseng Chi (曾琪) will join the Aichi Dione.
"We will do our best in the hope of making the starting lineup soon," Hsieh said at a press briefing in Taipei. "By joining the league, we also hope to encourage others to follow."
Expressing similar sentiments, Tseng said the three of them are aiming to become fully integrated into their teams soon.
"Hopefully we can blend into the teams in Japan as soon as possible," said Tseng, whose younger brother Jen Ho Tseng (曾仁和) made his Major League debut last September with the Chicago Cubs.
At the press briefing, JWPL representative Aya Sugiura said the three players were recruited not only on the strength of their baseball skills but also because of their desire to help other female players in Taiwan.
"In the tryout interviews, all three of them said they wanted to play pro baseball in Japan because they hoped to later become coaches so they could return to Taiwan to promote women's baseball," Sugiura said.
The three Taiwanese players are all graduates of the Department of Ball Sports at University of Taipei.
Head of the department Lin Chi-chuan (林啟川) said that because Taiwan does not have a women's professional baseball league, most female baseball players in college either give up the sport after graduation or chose softball instead.
The four-team JWBL, which was founded in 2009, offers an opportunity for Taiwanese women to continue their baseball career and realize their dreams of becoming professional players, he said.
Meanwhile, local baseball commentator Tseng Wen-chen (曾文誠) said the three Taiwanese women are "trailblazers" who are making a way for others to follow in their footsteps.
"It might be somewhat of an exaggeration, but I think they are like Chen Chin-feng (陳金鋒)," he said referring to the first Taiwanese to enter the U.S. Major League, playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002.
The three women are scheduled to join their respective teams next month in preparation for start of the 2018 season in April.
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