As a child, when I went to batting centers and sporting goods stores, I would be curiously greeted by people who said, “You’re a girl, but you’re playing baseball so hard. “She recalls that it always felt strange to her because she felt as if people were saying, “Playing baseball is a patent for boys.
The ace of Kobe Koryo High School’s hardball girls’ baseball team, Ayuri Shimano, 17, has a brother who is five years older than her and played for Osaka Toin in the 2004 Senbatsu tournament. Shimano also wanted to test her abilities, so in junior high school she joined the Osaka Oyodo Boys instead of a girls’ baseball team. In junior high school, she joined the Ooyodo Boys in Osaka instead of the girls’ team.
“I followed my older brother’s footsteps all the way through junior high school. But when I entered high school, I couldn’t aim for the same place (Koshien) as my brother and teammates. I was about to give up on that. ……”
When she entered high school, she also joined the entertainment agency “Horipro” and has been playing the role of a spokeswoman to make women’s baseball widely known. And this spring, the finals of the 25th National High School Girls’ Hardball Championship will be held at Koshien. Before this summer, she made the following vow with an adorable smile on her face.
“I want to make women’s baseball a major sport so that girls can proudly say, ‘I play baseball,’ instead of ‘I play women’s baseball.
On August 23, Ms. Shimano took the mound in the final inning of the night game as a starter. She was one of the top female players in the world in terms of fastballs, maxing out at 123 km/h, but her fastball stayed in the upper 110 km/h range.
“I was able to take a big step forward. It is my hope that Koshien will continue to be a stage for female players to aim for.
After graduation, she is still undecided whether to play professional baseball for women or to continue playing baseball at a university. Regardless of which stage she chooses, her role as a baseball player will not change.
From the September 10, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Reporting and writing： Yuji Yanagawa