July 18, 2007
Maryville (Sports Overtime) -- They're not the names you expect to see on a softball field in East Tennessee--definitely not the dialect.
Denso Japan came all the way from Anjo, Japan, thousands of miles to play pitch and catch with various U.S. softball teams. On Tuesday night at the Denso manufacturing plant in Maryville, the Japanese team played the East Tennessee All-Stars, a local squad made up of mostly high school and small college players.
Denso Japan has been in the United States for a month. One day they hope to take to the diamond the same strength and power American squads do.
"Japan has shorter players," Denso Japan catcher Miyuki Azuma told Sports Overtime's Daryl Hobby. "America has bigger, muscular players. America has power. When we go back to Japan we're gonna exercise and try to get more power."
Lady Vols co-head coach Karen Weekly says that lack of power is why the Japanese are so strong in other areas.
"I think that's why they work as hard as they do, because they know they have to overcome some of the size and strength the American girls have, so they work very hard and you rarely see them make a mistake."
Weekly thru out the first pitch Tuesday night. She, along with husband and Lady Vols co-head coach Ralph, were there to see two of their own play in the game. Tennessee pitcher Meagan Rhodes and Lady Vol catcher Shannon Doepking also participated in the event.
Former Lady Vol ace Monica Abbott is definitely popular in the East Tennessee softball world. She's also known in the Far East.
"She's very popular and famous because she's good," said Azuma. "When she watches Monica Abbott she's tall. She's excited and someday she wants to face her."