“I want to get a strikeout with a fastball in an international tournament, that’s my dream.”
How many balls he threw to fulfill his dream. He was exhausted, but he didn’t care, because he wanted to seize the moment, because he didn’t know when it would come again.
The opportunity finally came. I was tasked with saving the day in a crucial international game. In the last inning, I threw too hard and my muscles freaked out. My side muscles ached, but I signaled to the dugout that I was going to finish it. Three balls, two strikes. I gritted my teeth and threw it.
When I induced the batter to swing wildly at my most confident high fastball and struck out to end the game, I broke down and sobbed. She was so happy that she couldn’t stop crying, and she created another memorable moment in her life. This is the story of Lee Ji-sook (22), a pitcher for the Korean women’s national baseball team.
Lee pitched three innings of two-run relief against the Philippines in the final group game of the 2023 Asian Cup (BFA) in Hong Kong on Monday (June 28) to earn the save. He struck out two, including the final out.
The score was only four runs, and there were runners on second and third. Full count here. One bad pitch could have given up a hit or a walk, which could have turned the tide. On the other hand, a strike and the game is over.
The result is a happy ending. Lee Ji-sook, who was still shaken, said, “‘It’s over. It’s over. We’re going to the world championships’ was all I could think about. I was just in tears thinking that we could be together a little longer,” she smiled. With the win over the Philippines, the team qualified for the World Baseball Classic, which will be held in Japan and Canada in August and September.
After being told by the coaching staff to prepare for the game, Lee Ji-sook watched videos of the Philippines’ previous games to analyze their batters. She stayed up late at night talking to the national team’s pitching coach Lee Dong-hyun about the Philippine hitters’ tendencies and strategizing.
After the game, Lee said, “(Lee) Ji-sook was talking to me yesterday and she said, ‘Coach, I’m not afraid. She had prepared so well. She went above and beyond her role today, so I’m just grateful to her.”
The coach went on to say that Jisook’s strengths include, “She has guts. She doesn’t shy away from competition.” Lee Ji-sook came into the game in the fifth inning with runners on first and third and allowed only one run (unearned) in a bases-loaded situation. It was a huge win. It was the biggest chance of the game for the Philippines, but Lee saved the day. She didn’t back down in the face of a big inning and stood her ground. 메이저놀이터
She pitched three shutout innings. For women’s baseball, which is played in social clubs, three innings is a very long inning. “I’ve never pitched three innings before. So I had to rely on my mental strength,” she laughed. In the top of the seventh inning, Lee strained a muscle in her side and held her back, but she fought back mentally and earned the save.