Aiming at first pennant in decade, and aspiring to be a pro player 10年ぶりの優勝、そしてプロ野球へ ―硬式野球部主将・島袋洋奨さん―


  The Tohto University Baseball League is one of topnotch student leagues in Japan. It has four divisions, each of which has a promotion/demotion series after the regular season. Because of the cutthroat competition, it is often dubbed “Sengoku Tohto”, literally meaning a league of warring states. The Chuo University baseball team is a celebrity that won the championship 24 times since the league’s inauguration in 1931. But it remained lackluster for the last ten years since the autumn of 2004. Yosuke Shimabukuro, a fourth grader at the Business Administration Department, the Faculty of Commerce, became captain this season to lead his team to a league pennant. He graduated from Konan Senior High School in Okinawa Prefecture. When the lefty was a third grader in 2010, he led his team to two back-to-back championships in the Japanese inter-high school baseball tournament in the spring and summer. Konan was the sixth school to achieve the feat, which itself was the first in 12 years since Yokohama Senior High School did so with ace pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka who later joined the Boston Red Sox. Shimabukuro entered Chuo the following year. A pillar starter from the very beginning, he won the Rookie of the Year award with the second-best earned run average. He has since been pulling the team as ace hurler.





Will win all games to lead team to championship

-You have assumed the captaincy to pull your team this season. How do you feel now?

Shimabukuro: Our manager Hideyuki Akita nominated me to take up the post. It’s a great experience for me because I had never been a team captain in my baseball career and hadn’t needed to talk much to my teammates before.

-The team has just finished its spring camp in Miyazaki and Okinawa. What’s the team’s atmosphere now?

Shimabukuro: I think senior members, mostly fourth graders, have been pulling the team quite well so far. I have a feeling it’s the most powerful team since I came to Chuo three years ago.

-Just one straightforward question. What is your aim this season?

Shimabukuro: Let me give you my straight answer. We will aim for the championship. I’ll work hard to win all games in which I pitch.

-Which team are you going to mark?

Shimabukuro: Well, every team is our rival. But Asia University, which won the pennant for five seasons running, will be particularly formidable for us. They have systematic strength that makes them surely get through one of few chances. Even if we collect more hits and outperform them, we might lose to them. Asia University is such a team. It’s really a team hard to deal with. It’s actually the sole team from which we haven’t got a winning point since I joined Chuo. But our team has gained strength to put up resistance. I think we have a better chance to beat them. Chuo is matched against Asia University in the opening game. We’ll pump ourselves up to make a good start.




島袋洋奨 秋田監督から指名していただきました。これまでの野球人生で主将を経験したことがなく、そんなにチームに対して発言することがなかったので、良い経験をさせてもらっています。


島袋 ここまで4年生を中心に、上級生がうまくチームを引っ張っていけていると感じています。入学以来、いちばんチームに力を感じています。


島袋 やるからには優勝を狙います。そのためにも自分が投げる試合は、すべて勝ちたいと思います。


島袋 どの大学もライバルですが、5期連続で優勝している亜細亜大学は、優勝するうえで特に強力なライバルです。亜細亜大の野球は、少ないチャンスを確実にモノにする組織的な強さがあります。ヒット数や内容では上回っていても、試合では負けてしまう。対戦相手としてはやりにくいです。僕が入学して以来、唯一勝ち点を取ったことのない大学でもあります。しかし、中央大学も今シーズンは力が付いてきている手応えがあるので、勝てない相手ではないと思います。開幕戦の相手が亜細亜大学なので、開幕戦から気合いを入れて、良い形でスタートを切りたいと思います。


Aspiring to become a pro since boyhood

-You are looking forward to the Nippon Professional Baseball draft in autumn, aren’t you?

Shimabukuro: Yes, I’ve been aspiring to become a pro baseball player since my boyhood. I would like to become a pro by all means. For that purpose, I’ll get hung up on my results this year. I think if I do so, results will take care of themselves.

-What do you have in mind when you practice pitching?

Shimabukuro: I couldn’t swing my arm through from time to time last year. So I couldn’t control my pitch. In preparation for the season’s opening, I now practice swinging my arm by delivering as many balls as possible to batters in exhibition games. By so doing, I want to recover my proper pitching form to improve ball control. After all, ball control is one of the most important elements in pitching.

-What do you find most difficult in pitching?

Shimabukuro: You can’t pitch well if you take a slightly different stride on the mound. That’s one of difficult points for me. I think a batter also has difficult problems. But I think pitching is harder than hitting because it is more affected by your day-to-day physical and mental conditions.

-Are there any pro players you’d like to follow?

Shimabukuro: No one in particular. I think most pitchers active in pro teams are good and stable. They have good ball control. They throw great fastballs and sharp sliders, curves, splitters, etc. I want to be like them. To make my dream come true, I’ll try to overcome my challenges one by one.




島袋 プロ野球は小さい頃からの目標だったので、是非行きたいと思っています。そのためにも今年は、結果にこだわっていきたいです。結果にこだわれば、おのずと結果は付いてくると思います。


島袋 昨年は腕が振り切れていないことが多々ありました。そのため、制球がうまくいかないこともありました。シーズン開幕前の今は、オープン戦などの実践で打者に対して数多く投げることで、腕を振り切るための練習をしています。また、練習などで球数を多く投げ、フォームを固めることでコントロールを良くしていきたいと思います。やはり、制球力はピッチングにおいて最も重要な要素のひとつだと思うので。


島袋 踏み込む位置が少しずれるだけで、全く思うように投げられなくなるところです。打者も打者の難しさがあると思いますが、その日のコンディションに大きく左右されるピッチングは難しいですね。


島袋 特にいません。プロで活躍されている選手はみな、コントロールも直球の質も、変化球のキレも高いレベルで安定しているからです。私もプロで活躍できる選手になりたいと思っています。そのためには、まだまだ多くの課題がありますが、ひとつずつ克服していきたいと思います。


Enjoy white-hot Tohto games!

  -Lastly give a message to those who support Chuo team and you.

  Shimabukuro: Our team has a good atmosphere this year. When you come to Jingu Stadium, take much notice of our team power. I’ll pull up my socks so I can win all games in which I appear. Tohto teams have a lot of higher levelled players. And there are no throwaway games. All games are heated. I’m sure you will enjoy them. As we normally have fewer spectators, you can watch a game from various angles. We will go for it to win the championship. So give us your pep.




島袋 今年のチームは雰囲気が良いので、応援をお願いします。神宮球場へ観戦に来られた際は、中央大学のチーム力に注目してください。私も投げる試合はすべて勝つつもりで頑張ります。また、東都の野球はレベルが高く、消化試合がなく、緊張感のある試合ばかりなので、そこを楽しんでいただけたらと思います。観客が少ないので、様々な席で色々な観戦ができるのも楽しいと思います。優勝目指して頑張りますので、応援をよろしくお願いします。


Interviewed By: Kento Isogai & Daisuke Aoki