Redmond’s Rippers Baseball Club’s mission and philosophy is to prepare its student athletes for high school ball and beyond.
For pitcher and infielder Emily Tsujikawa, that “beyond” is earning a spot on the USA Baseball 2018 Women’s National Team.
The Redmond High junior and member of the Mustangs’ junior varsity team and Rippers’ 18U team, made the final 20-player USA roster that was revealed on June 18 after the Women’s National Open and team trials in Cary, North Carolina.
Tsujikawa laughed when telling when she learned about her inclusion on the roster.
“I was actually in class taking a final exam. After the final, after that nervous day, I found out I was on the team, ‘cause I actually checked on my computer after I finished my final,” she said. “I was so excited to be able to represent my country and play with all these amazing women.”
While classmates were still engaged in that chemistry exam, Tsujikawa sat in the corner, smiling and celebrating in her head. She told her teacher and some Rippers teammates in her class afterward.
Rene Astorga, president of the Ripper youth baseball select program, said Tsujikawa made the USA squad “due to her hard work, dedication and humbleness.” She is the only female player on her Ripper team.
Tsujikawa, 17, and her teammates will compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Women’s Baseball World Cup in Viera, Florida, from Aug. 22-31. Team USA is a two-time world champion and will play a series of exhibition games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from Aug. 16-20.
The Women’s National Open and team trials took place from June 7-14 and at first featured 80-100 players age 16 and up testing their skills and participating in games. The group was then cut down to 40 for the trials, which was even more intense, Tsujikawa said.
“It was really fun, but it was a little bit tiring, but it was great to be a baseball player for a week,” she said, noting that most things went her way during the trials, but she had to handle some adversity as well. “I felt like I really tried to push myself as much as I could, so I wouldn’t regret missing any opportunities during this period.”
Along with on-field skills, players were tested on their raw ability, their reaction time, their ability to recognize different pitches, their speed and how far and how high they can jump.
“It’s just a lot of crazy things that they measure; a lot of mental stuff as well,” Tsujikawa said.
Tsujikawa, who participated in the 2017 Women’s National Team Development Program, still has some regular-season games and tournaments left with the Rippers before meeting up with the national team. She plays about four games a week plus practices with the Rippers, and she’ll spend some time in their training facility working on her pitching and hitting.
USA manager Matt Weagle said it was difficult selecting the squad since all the players were so talented.
“These athletes have the talent and the character to represent the U.S. well both on and off the field and we are excited to get to work with them on bringing a gold medal home on our soil,” he said.
On choosing baseball over softball, Tsujikawa noted in a candid Reporter interview in April: “I was going to play softball, but the Little League in my area didn’t seem very competitive and challenging. My older sister had played baseball so I decided to give it a try because it seemed similar and very interesting.”