Special High School Baseball Macthes Start at Koshien

Sports

Nishinomiya, Hyogo Pref., Aug. 10 (Jiji Press)--A series of Japanese high school baseball games started at Hanshin Koshien Stadium on Monday as an alternative special event following the cancellations of hugely popular official tournaments this spring and summer due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The event brings together the 32 teams that had been selected for the canceled spring invitational tournament, with each school having only one game, for a total of 16 games, during the period through Aug. 17. Games will be played on six days, with two days--Thursday and Friday--reserved in case of bad weather.

Ahead of the first game on Monday, the opening ceremony was held at the stadium in the city of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan. "I want you all to play to the fullest at your dream stadium of Koshien by keeping the thoughts of all high school baseball players in your hearts," Eiji Hatta, head of the Japan High School Baseball Federation, said in a speech at the ceremony.

"We are determined to fight until the last minute," Kento Kawase, captain of Oita Commercial High School from Oita Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and Tomoya Inoue, captain of Hanasaki Tokuharu High School from the eastern prefecture of Saitama, said in a joint pledge representing all players participating in the closely watched summer event. The two teams met in the day's first game.

There was no entrance procession to prevent coronavirus infection. The epidemic led to the cancellations of the invitational high school baseball tournament in March and the national high school baseball championship this month, both at Koshien, the home stadium of the Hanshin Tigers professional baseball team and the holy site for high school baseball players.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press