Thursday's opening game in the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City featured some players familiar to Scenic City fans.
Three University of Tennessee at Chattanooga players not only participated in Brazil's 2-1 win over Puerto Rico but played big parts in the outcome.
Recent UTC graduate Vivian Morimoto and rising senior Simone "Ninjja" Suetsugu play for Brazil, while Lady Mocs rising sophomore Nicole Osterman is a member of the Puerto Rico team.
"It feels great to get out here with our friends from back home and girls we grew up playing with," Morimoto said by phone Thursday. "We're just comfortable with them and it's a lot of fun."
Trailing 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Brazil tied the game when Suetsugu scored on an error to send the game to extra innings. Brazil scored in the eighth to win.
Suetsugu, Morimoto and Osterman each had a hit in that game. Brazil later lost 11-1 to Australia with Morimoto getting a hit and Suetsugu scoring a run. Puerto Rico lost its second game as well, 8-0 to the United States.
The Puerto Rico team is coached by Carlos Caro. Several of the Brazilian players had played for Caro at Miami-Dade Community College.
"Our goal was to beat Puerto Rico, so it was great to get that win," Morimoto said. "We needed to show that we can compete at this level."
Pool play continues through the weekend. Brazil and Puerto Rico each will take on the Netherlands today. Brazil will face the U.S. team Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.
"We are so much better than we were, because we have so many more players who come to the United States to play in college," Suetsugu said of the Brazilian team. "But the competition is really good here.
"This is a great experience for me, and I think it's going to help me next year at UTC. This week, I just want to go out and show that Brazil can play good softball."
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...