When Emily Tsujikawa began her senior year at Redmond High on Tuesday, a teacher asked students to tell the class one fun thing they did this summer.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I went to the World Cup and played on the national team.’ Everyone’s kind of shocked,” Tsujikawa said with a laugh, referring to the USA Baseball Women’s National Team at the 2018 World Baseball Softball Confederation Women’s Baseball World Cup late last month.
A handful of students and teachers already knew about her baseball career and everyone offered her congratulations.
Tsujikawa, 17, pitched three innings during two appearances during the 10-day event, striking out three batters, giving up no hits and walking one.
Canada defeated the USA, 8-5, in 10 innings in the bronze medal game on Aug. 31 in Viera, Florida.
Tsujikawa pitched one inning in the USA’s 11-1 win over Korea on Aug. 24 and two innings in her team’s 8-1 triumph over the Dominican Republic on Aug. 30.
Team USA finished the event with a 6-3 record.
“At the Cup, it was kind of like crazy but kind of good chaotic, I guess, because we were all preparing for the World Cup, training together,” she said. “It didn’t really set in for me that I was playing in the World Cup until actually during the Cup — like the night before I pitched. It was really relaxed until I realized, ‘Oh, I’m somewhere that’s kind of important.’”
After facing her first batter, Tsujikawa said she found her comfort zone — minus any nervousness, only excitement. She was thrilled to play well and represent her country.
Tsujikawa 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. After making the team, she continued pitching for her Redmond-based Rippers Baseball Club 18U select team. When the season ended, she threw bullpens, hit the gym for weightlifting and did some sprinting training to help with her endurance on the mound.
Her World Cup experience included bonding with her teammates, sharing stories and trading T-shirts with the Australian players and becoming a stellar card player, she said with a laugh.
The most crucial thing she’s learned during her baseball career — and something that was enhanced in her mind at the World Cup — was that, “So many other women and girls were told that they couldn’t play (baseball) or weren’t allowed to play growing up. I think that if anyone says that you can’t do something, to push through it and find a way, because physical limitations are very insignificant compared to the mental ones.”
There were times during games when Tsujikawa thought she couldn’t trust herself with certain pitches.
”They’d come up and reassure me, and I’d get a big mental boost,” she said of her teammates. “I’ve learned from them that mental toughness is everything in the game.”