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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports softball

Yamaguchi’s softball career comes full circle

Practices are tough to watch these days for Tory Yamaguchi.

Whenever she spots a catcher’s mitt, the former IU softball standout can’t help but reminisce of the days when she signaled for changeups and fastballs.

“I have so many fond memories being a player here,” Yamaguchi said. “But I think I’m ready to watch the game outside the diamond now.”

Not as a spectator, though.

Rather, the Hoosiers’ all-time home run leader begins what she hopes will become a successful coaching career. And lucky for her, she’s going to start by volunteering this season for IU – the school she still calls her home away from home.

“When I found out IU hired (head coach) MichelleGardner, I e-mailed her instantly,” Yamaguchi said. “I told her I had a year left of grad school and was eager to learn the art of coaching.”

It’s no surprise Gardner granted Yamaguchi’s request. After all, Gardner added a pro to her staff.

Last February, Yamaguchi was one of 24 college seniors chosen in the National Pro Fastpitch draft. Even though going pro wasn’t her priority, she saw the experience as another opportunity to sharpen her knowledge of the game. When her senior season ended in Bloomington, it was off to Allentown, Pa., for a summer job of playing ball with the Philadelphia Force.

“Turning pro was honestly an afterthought,” Yamaguchi said. “Most players stop after college and move on to something else.”

That plan wasn’t Yamaguchi’s, though.

When she joined the Force she found herself behind a veteran catcher. Making matters worse, the team picked up another catcher who supplemented the College World Series game-winning pitcher.

Her job, consequently, was to warm pitchers up.

“Don’t feel bad for me about my pro experience,” Yamaguchi said. “I actually had a great time in the bullpen learning from some of the best players around. I earned their respect.”

Yamaguchi knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles. In 2003, her first season with the cream and crimson, she had to redshirt due to a shoulder surgery.

After two years of ball, her health once again took a turn for the worse. The star-studded catcher had to do the unthinkable – move back home for the year because of a serious illness.

“When I was injured and sick it was really hard to watch the games, let alone not be around the team,” Yamaguchi said. “But it was never like ‘Boy, I’ll never recover.’ I was eager to get back as soon as possible and show my teammates that an injury or illness won’t stop me from playing the game I love.”

Picking the brain of this softball mastermind, one quickly realizes there’s nothing but herself that can stop her from succeeding.

She’s the type of player who’s bound to become a head coach one day.

There’s a saying in baseball that goes, “Catchers always make good coaches” because they act as the commanders in the field while still playing. The same can be said of softball.

“Since I was little, my goal was to get four years of collegiate softball in,” Yamaguchi said. “Now that those days are over, I’m ready to coach and help the Hoosiers succeed.”

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