Local teens qualify for world softball meet

SINGAPORE have qualified for next year's Junior Men's World Softball Championship, after finishing as the runners-up in the Asian Championship yesterday.

They were trounced 7-0 by giants Japan in the final, but had already secured one of three World Championship berths up for grabs when they were ranked second (five wins, two losses) after the round-robin matches.

Winners Japan and third-place Malaysia took the other spots for next July's World Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.

This is the third time Singapore have qualified for the biennial world event following outings in 2008 and 2012. But competition was stiffer this year, with eight teams vying for the three places. Just four teams competed at the last Asian event in 2010.

With most players aged 16 and below in the Under-19 tournament, the Singapore team were also one of the youngest.

Said team manager Lim Zhi Yong, in a phone interview from Chaiyaphum, Thailand, where the event was held: "Qualifying for the World Championship was never a given. Japan are in a different league but we are quite close in standard with teams like Indonesia and Hong Kong."

He said Singapore benefited from being able to rotate their team of six equally competent pitchers, while other sides had to work with just two or three. Lim also praised the team for proving their mettle as they fought back to secure victory in several matches.

Team captain Jerel Tan, 17, said: "All the games were very tight but we had belief in ourselves and our team spirit brought us through in the end."

Singapore Baseball and Softball Association president Jeffeury Tan tipped several players from this team to earn a senior call-up when Singapore hosts the SEA Games in 2015.

He said: "They may be young, but they have proven that they can compete against Asia's best. Next year's World Championship will help them gain more experience and get better."



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