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Japanese Pitching Sensation Yoshida Joins Na Koa Ikaika

Posted July 28, 2011, 11:25 AM HST Updated July 28, 2011, 11:59 AM HST
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By Wendy Osher

Iron Maehara Stadium on Maui, home of the Na Koa Ikaika Maui baseball team. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui’s Na Koa Ikaika baseball team has traded for Japanese pitching sensation Eri Yoshida of the Chico Outlaws.  Yoshida is expected to arrive on Maui later this week, and join the team in its next home game, August 2 against Edmonton.

The 19-year-old Yoshida, known for her hard-to-hit 50 mph knuckleball, made headlines last summer when she became the first female to play professionally in Japan.

She signed last week with the Chico Outlaws and started on Friday night against Maui, in a game that Na Koa Ikaika lost 8-4.   After seeing her in action last week, Maui worked out a deal with Chico to bring Yoshida to the islands.

In making the move to Maui, Yoshida rejoins a half dozen former teammates who were all part of the 2010 Outlaws Championship team, but now play for Maui, along with manager Garry Templeton.

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“I am excited to have Eri back pitching for me again,” said Maui Manager Garry Templeton. “She deserves this chance to continue to develop her professional career and I’m glad we are able to offer her this opportunity.”

“Many cast doubt that we would acquire her after our initial July announcement,” said Maui Owner Bob Young, “but I am pleased to no end for the great fans on the Valley Isle that they will be able to now see first-hand the talents of this extraordinary female athlete.”

Yoshida has played for the Kobe Cruise 9 of the Kansai League in Japan, the Arizona Winter League, and the Chico Outlaws.  She will be in Maui on August 2, at which time further details will be announced.

“I am excited to play in Maui for Mr. Templeton and with my old teammates,” said Yoshida, “and also because we have family ties to the island and I am very comfortable there.”

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