Learning from the best

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Alejandro Choriego pumps up his teammates as Guatemala took on Canada Monday night.

Sometimes the best way to learn in sports is to be roughed up a little bit on the scoreboard.

Although that’s happened this week for Guatemala and Hong Kong at the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in Prince Albert, the benefits of facing the top teams in the world for the first time is something that each program is looking to draw upon going forward.

“As coaches, it’s an amazing feeling to be part of a big event like this,” Hong Kong coach Ronald Yu said. “We want to learn as much as we can from the people here, whether that’s from the other teams or those involved with the organizing committee.”

“The amount of things that we’ve picked up throughout this week has been huge,” Guatemala first baseman Cristian Monzon added. “It’s a totally different experience when you get to play outside of your home country.”

Sunday was an historic day for the Guatemala junior program as they captured their first ever win at the tournament with a 5-1 victory over Hong Kong.

“That was a cool moment for us,” Monzon said. “Everyone was working hard around the diamond and we were rewarded for it.”

With the senior men’s team making their only trip to the World Championship three years ago, Guatemala is looking to continue to build a strong foundation with their junior program for the years to come.

“If you look around and watch all of the other countries that are here, there’s a lot we can take back to Guatemala to help improve our leagues there,” coach Julio Alibizures said.

“It’s been an amazing week for us in Prince Albert…we’ll remember it for a long time.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Hong Kong pitcher Mervyn Yu fires the ball at the plate during a game against the Czech Republic.

Those same lessons are being applied for Hong Kong, as they look to match the success of their senior men’s side that has made five trips to the World Championship.

“The sport is growing in Hong Kong and we want to keep things moving in the right direction,” Yu said.

“The skill level that the guys have faced this week has been totally different from what they see back home. If they can learn from that, it will be a successful tournament.”