Female Assistant Hits Practice Balls at Spring Koshien Tourney for 1st Time

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Team assistant Yuna Nagano hits during pre-game practice at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Wednesday.

A female assistant in Tokushima Prefectural Joto High School’s baseball team made history on Wednesday when she hit ground balls during pre-game practice at the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

This is the first year the tournament has allowed female assistants to participate in on-field practice.

Wearing the same uniform as the other members of the team, Yuna Nagano stepped up near home plate, hitting balls to infielders for about a minute before Coach Ryosuke Shinji took her place, receiving balls from her.

The crowd in the stadium responded with resounding applause, acknowledging the milestone.

Joto High School is competing in the tournament via a special slot reserved for schools facing challenging circumstances. With only 12 players on the roster, Nagano often steps in to hit ground balls during practice sessions.

“Everyone encouraged me before the game, so I could hit the ball with peace of mind,” Nagano said after the game. “I want my team to qualify for the summer tournament and step on Koshien soil again with everyone.”