Softball on a baseball field doesn’t scare Olympians
Posted On July 22, 2021
TOKYO – These are “the Olympics made for television,” a line organizers repeated to justify holding the Tokyo Games without spectators.
Bad news for those responsible: One of the first events to air looks, well, strange on TV.
As softball continued for day two at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, some watching from home kept commenting on the awkwardness of a softball field being built into a baseball stadium.
For example, the pitcher’s circle is in front of the traditional mound. The second base is in the middle of the infield. And the outfield wall is right in front of the baseball fences.
The good news? Those who play it don’t seem to care much. After the United States beat Canada 1-0 on Thursday, shortstop Amanda Chidester – who led the game’s only score and went 2 on 4 – called the field “pristine.”
“I’ve seen this question come up a lot,” Chidester said of playing softball in a baseball arena. “As a player who has played on both… they did everything to make it look as like a softball field as possible.
“To be able to get into the batter’s box and do it like they do on this court, it’s amazing. They have done an incredible job of making it feel like a top level softball field. “
US coach Ken Eriksen agreed. It may sound strange, but plays very well.
“It’s amazing because the TV shows the baseball lines on the turf, but the turf is fantastic and the pitch is so safe,” said US softball coach Ken Eriksen. “It really is probably one of the best places we’ve played.”
Eriksen expects the same at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, where the team has previously trained. The game of pool will continue there on Saturday.
“We don’t really think of it as a baseball field,” he said. “They did a great job with the softball brands and everything.”
With baseball and softball on the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, Tokyo organizers said playing both sports at the same venues represented a “new profitable model” designed to make sports more attractive to the International Olympic Committee. . The conversion of an existing stadium’s playing field from baseball to softball and vice versa has been proposed by the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC), according to the WBSC media guide.
Organizers said Fukishima Azoma Stadium could seat up to 14,300 spectators, while Yokhoma was expected to seat 34,000. The pandemic shattered those plans.
Monica Abbott, who shot seven scoreless innings against Canada and scored a non-hitting goal in the sixth, played professionally in Japan for over a decade. The biggest downside to playing in a baseball stadium is the lack of fans, she said.
“It would be the intimacy, the up-close experience that fans get in a softball stadium versus a softball stadium,” she said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have any fans, so when it comes to the area, the game, the fence, the scoring (all) stayed true. Especially at the bottom of the lines, they have the fence all around so you don’t have that extra foul territory that baseball stadiums have when a softball team is playing in a baseball stadium. “
For Chidester, it’s the same.
“I wouldn’t even know – you can’t even tell the difference there,” she said. “It’s just great to be there and to be able to play the game.”