As he had previously stated, Fukuoka Softbank took the first overall pick and succeeded in catching Ihine Itsua, a rfielder from Homare High School (Aichi). 184 cm, 82 kg, he has a beautiful silhouette and well-developed, well-developed quadriceps muscles, which give him agility and flexibility. Ihine was born in Nagoya, Japan, the youngest of four siblings to Nigerian parents.
My father is about 170 cm tall and my mother is 156 cm. I am not that big, but my older sisters and brothers were all big and good at sports. I haven’t heard anything about the origin of the name Itsua. Nationality? I think it’s Nigerian, but if it’s not, that’s okay. …… I think I’ll figure it out properly when I grow up (laughs).”
Ihine, who speaks in the Nagoya dialect and attended an abacus school in elementary school, started playing baseball when he was in the third grade of elementary school. He was able to show his outstanding physical ability in all kinds of sports, including soccer, basketball, and track and field, but he chose baseball because it is a team sport that requires the use of equipment.
He hit, ran, and defended. I had never played this sport before, and I liked the freshness of it. I am very happy to be able to make such an interesting sport my profession. That is why I have always dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player.
When Shinya Yawata, the coach of Honor High School, visited the Higashiyama Club, Ihine’s junior high school club, he saw Ihine running as an alternate and thought he was “springy and funny,” so he asked him to join the club. The coach recalls.
I had a hard time figuring out how to develop her talent. During practice, she would often stop just before the limit. For example, he would stop after seven or eight times what he could do ten times. Even during dash practice, he would look sideways at the athlete running next to him and run along with him. Perhaps in kindergarten or elementary school, if he stood out too much in a running race, for example, heartless words would be exchanged. I think this is why he developed the habit or habit of matching up with other children. This may be reading too deep, though.”
Considering his later life, he treated them more strictly than other players. Yahata has never once praised Ihine.
He said, “Even if it takes him a long time after he joins the pros, he may become one of the best rangers in the world of baseball. There is still room for growth. The question is whether they will wait for me (to grow). In that respect, I think Softbank is the best baseball team in the world.
Until the draft, Yahata said he had never met Yi Hine’s parents. But every year at Christmas, New Year’s, and after the summer tournament, his mother would always contact him and say.
Itua will always be your son. Please take good care of him.
It was before the summer of his sophomore year in high school that he began to play the position of a batter. Although he had never played in the Koshien Tournament, in just over a year he had earned the reputation of being the number one player of his generation. He handles difficult batted balls with ease, and his throws are accurate even when he is out of position.
Shortstop is a very colorful position and is always a key part of the team,” he said. That’s what makes it interesting. I watched YouTube and used Sousuke Genda of the Saitama Seibu as a reference. I often watch the moves of Major League Baseball players, too.
Ihine also dreams of challenging the majors in the future.
I have a desire to challenge the limits. I don’t know what the limit is at this stage. If I play very well in the pros and make Japan seem smaller, I will be able to play in the major leagues. ……
The challenge of an 18-year-old with unlimited potential begins.
From the November 11, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
Interview and text： Yuji Yanagawa
PHOTO： Masahiro Kawayanagi, Kyodo News (2nd photo)