He called it a plateau, but when his best friend’s older sister, a year his junior, won an international tournament wearing the flag, it ignited a fire in his heart. “I can play baseball, which I love and am good at, and I can play internationally with the flag on my chest,” said Kim Jae-hyang (middle school), an “extraordinary prospect.” That’s how he started running again.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Kim Jae-hyang started playing baseball in sixth grade, and his dream is to be a baseball player. “My dream is to play for the Korean women’s national baseball team. After that, I want to continue my baseball career in Japan (where there are unemployed teams),” he said.
In January of last year, Kim participated in the 2022 KBO Next Level Training Camp as a member of the Korean Little League National Team. It was her first time participating as a girl. Another girl who participated was Yang Seo-jin (16), the current outfielder for the South Korean women’s national team.
Yang was called up to the national team for the first time this year and had a breakout performance at the 2023 Asian Cup (BFA) in Hong Kong late last month, helping South Korea to a bronze medal. In that tournament, Yang was the team’s table-setter, batting .750 (9-for-12) with eight RBIs and a 1.583 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), earning him the tournament organizers’ All-Star Outfielder and the team’s own Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Seeing her best friend’s performance ignited a spark in her. “Watching (Yang) Seo-jin make me want to become a member of the national team next year,” Kim said. She told me a lot about the international tournament. I promised myself to work harder at baseball.”
Kim Jae-hyang said, “I’m actually in a plateau right now. I feel like I’ve stopped improving,” but she has gained the motivation to run again. After graduating from middle school this year, Kim will be eligible to try out for the women’s national baseball team next year. If selected, she will be able to train with the national team and play internationally alongside Yang Seo-jin.
During the week, Kim trains with boys at the Little Baseball Team in Cheonan’s Southeast District, and on weekends, she plays baseball with her older sisters and brothers at the recently formed Women’s Baseball Association of Korea (WBAK) Cheonan City Junior Women’s Baseball Team.
The WBAK Cheonan City Junior Girls Baseball Team is an all-girls baseball team created with the support of the Korea Women’s Baseball Federation and the Cheonan City Baseball and Softball Association for female baseball players who have to leave the Little League after graduating from middle school. It is composed of girls from the first grade of middle school to the third grade of high school. The team currently has two national team members (Jang Yun-seo and Yang Seo-jin).
Kim Jae-hyang, an outfielder, boasts a wide defensive range thanks to her natural athleticism. Lim Do-hyuk, a former KT Wiz player who leads the junior women’s baseball team, said, “(Kim) has long legs and is faster than others. Her defense is better than most outfielders. He has good basics, so he’s always ready when the ball comes. She can handle any ball that comes her way.”메이저사이트
The performance of the women’s national baseball team at the Asian Cup, led by Yang Sang-moon, made the heart of the top prospect beat faster. Kim Jae-hyang is the future of Korea, and like Yang Seo-jin, she will soon be the present.