Teams from 5 different cities, some as far as 8+ hours away, came to play. Eric and I expected we'd run into some other Americans there, since baseball is, after all, America's Favorite Pastime. But one look around at the names on the back of some shirts made it pretty clear we Americans were going to be in the minority around those parts. Toyoda, Mishomi, Aoki, Yasaki, and Hiroshima don't really scream American now, do they? And then once we learned that the tournament was being held to celebrate "35 years of Japanese in Carmo do Paranaíba", it became clear that in Brasil it is the Japanese and their descendants who bring Brasilians baseball and softball.
All four other teams consisted of only males and all but about a half dozen of them were Japanese (those other 6 or so were Brasilians). And I hate to stereotype or generalize, but pretty much all of the Japanese men were petite and very athletic. So when our team came walking off the bus with our 5 women, 3 Americans, 6 Brasilians, and a couple players that have a bit of a belly on them all wearing our circa 1978-looking uniforms, well, we must have been quite the sight! (Bad News Bears comes to mind . . .)
Anyway, we had a great time! We placed 5th in the tourney, which isn't overly surprising given the competition, but we played really well our last 2 games. We lost our first 2 games in pretty ugly defeats, but we played what ended up being the first and second place teams in our final games. The score against the number one team was 7-6 after they came back and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the final inning. And we actually beat the number 2 team in our final game 8-5!
I only started one game, and I didn't get the opportunity to mess up too much. I only had 2 balls hit to me in right field and I got both of those in quickly. I only got to bat once and ended up popping out, but at least I didn't strike out! "Don't totally screw up" is my main goal in sports; I like to really aim high, you know? ;) Eric, on the other hand, started, and played in their entirety, all four games and did really well. He hit an out-of-the-park home run (one of just a few during the entire tourney), had a triple and several other good hits, stole home, and played really great at short stop and third base.
The field was all dirt - no grass to be found. But it was at least well-packed and graded and sure beat the heck out of where we normally play in BH!
Here's my hunny playing third base.
And here he is looking a little more alive over at shortstop.
He's stirring up a little dust here! The ball is in his glove though, and he is about to make an awesome throw to first and get the runner out.
A little pep-talk from Aoki, our coach, during the final game.
And here's Eric at bat. If I remember correctly, this was his triple.The setting of the field was really nice. It was just a few miles out of town and surrounded by cattle pastures and coffee fields. The host team did an awesome job and supplied lunch both days. After the games Sunday there was a ceremony celebrating the Japanese presence in Carmo do Paranaíba, and we were served a Japanese meal with sushi rolls and all kinds of deliciousness! The kept it all very organized and official complete with introductions of the starting line-up before each game, the Brasil and Japan Nation Anthems being playing, and the most official opening ceremony I've ever seen at a softball game.