POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 12, 2011
In the end, playing the games was all they could do.
As the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan came into focus, the Tokyo Women's College of Physical Education softball team split a double-header at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Team manager Mineko Yoshino said all the players contacted their families in Japan overnight. Still, "it was very hard to concentrate during the game," Yoshino said through translator Takashi Moribe, a trainer with the University of Hawaii athletic department.
Yoshino said if the team were in Japan, they "wouldn't play because they just want to help out the families."
But since the team is here, "there's nothing they can do about it," he said. "All they could do is pray and keep communicating and just hope."
TWCPE opened its schedule with a 1-0 loss to Hawaii on Thursday. The game ended at 7:45 p.m., just about the time the earthquake struck off the eastern coast of Honshu island.
Yoshino said the roster includes players from the hardest-hit areas of Sendai and Fukushima. Although all the players got a hold of relatives, Yoshino instructed them to continue to keep in touch because aftershocks continued.
The team rode out the Hawaii tsunami warning at the Miramar Hotel in Waikiki.
The team split its two games yesterday, beating South Dakota State 10-7 and losing to Miami (Ohio) 5-2. The team plays Chaminade tomorrow and Longwood on Monday before returning home Tuesday.
Mai Ayabe, part of the Hawaii women's basketball team, was flying back to Honolulu from Las Vegas with the Wahine when news of the disaster broke.
Ayabe is from Fukuoka, on the northern shore of the island of Kyushu, which lies south of Honshu. She said she learned of the quake through text messages and Facebook once the team landed in Honolulu.
She got in touch with her sister yesterday morning. But the family hadn't heard from her brother who lives in Tokyo, as phone lines remained down.
"I cannot do anything. All I can do is pray for them," said Ayabe, whose mother and aunt were in town for senior night last week.