He called it a plateau, but when his best friend’s older sister, a year his junior, won an international tournament wearing the flag, he was inspired. Playing baseball, which he loves and is good at, and wearing the flag on his chest, he was able to play internationally. 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 unemployed teams exist),” he said.
In January last year, Kim participated in the 2022 KBO Next Level Training Camp as a member of the Korean Little League National Team. It was the first time she participated 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 at the end of last month, helping South Korea to a bronze medal. At the 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), and was named the tournament organisers’ All-Star Outfielder and the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Seeing her best friend’s performance ignited a spark in her. “Watching (Yang) Seo-jin make me want to be a part of the national team next year,” said Kim Jae-hyang. She told me a lot about international competitions. 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 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 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 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 a girls-only 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. The team consists of girls from the first year of middle school to the third year of high school. The team currently has two national team members (Jang Yun-seo and Yang Seo-jin).
Outfielder Kim Jae-hyang boasts a wide defensive range thanks to her natural athleticism. According to Lim Do-hyuk, a former KT Wiz player who leads the junior women’s baseball team, “(Kim) has long legs and is faster than others. Her defensive range is better than 토토사이트 most outfielders. He has good basics, so he is always ready when the ball comes. She can handle any ball that comes her way.”
The performance of the women’s national team at the Asian Cup, led by Yang Sang-moon, has 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.