Kentaro Mori is not the first Japanese-born baseball player to come over to SUNY Plattsburgh, but the team and coaching staff is excited to see what the future holds for the freshman.
In the early stages of Mori’s athletic career, he only played soccer. But at 9-years-old, he decided to try baseball because he found out his father had played when he was kid.
“I thought it would be fun to try a new sport and challenge myself,” Mori said. “I think I was most inspired by seeing Ichiro Suzuki, who is a Japanese -born player in the MLB (Major League Baseball).”
As high school was coming to an end, Mori wanted to study abroad in the United States, but he was unsure of where he would end up.
“I have family in Rochester, so I knew I wanted to go to New York,” Mori said. “I visited a study abroad event at my high school in Japan and I came across a SUNY Plattsburgh table and learned about their business program which really caught my eye.”
Playing baseball at Plattsburgh was not in Mori’s intentions when he first arrived.
“I really just wanted to study abroad but I felt like joining the baseball team would help with my English,” Mori said. “I didn’t want to come here and spend all my time with other international students speaking my language. I thought it would be cool to play the sport I love and become a better English speaker at the same time.”
Head coach Kris Doorey admires Mori’s ability to learn something new and still succeed.
“When Kentaro first arrived, he was a first basemen, but we knew we had to get him on the field with the athleticism he has,” Doorey said. “We switched him to second base and he picked it up right away. Since then, he has worked on his game and has become a great second basemen for us.”
As the season goes on, the freshman from Japan is becoming more comfortable and is excelling on the baseball diamond.
“I think that is the biggest difference from the fall to now, is that Kentaro is much more comfortable with the team,” Doorey said. “Kentaro has become one of our closing pitchers and continues to work on his game which will help us out later in the season.”
Mori is not only the only Japanese player on the team, but he is also the only international student on the roster.
“Being the only international student was interesting at the start, but now the guys treat me just like any other teammate,” Mori said. “Joining the team has helped with my English very much because communicating in baseball is a key part of the game.”
Usually, when a student wants to travel across the world for school, the parents are a little hesitant, but not for Kentaro.
“My parents were actually very supportive and understanding of my decision the moment they knew I wanted to study abroad,” Mori said. “I think the hardest part about coming to the U.S. was trying to play baseball while not having a full grasp on the language.”
After seeing Mori play, Doorey thinks his best attribute is his work ethic.
“Kentaro is an extremely hard worker who does not accept failure,” Doorey said. “He is a very team-driven player and is always willing to be taught to better his game.”
As baseball might look like an easy sport to play from spectators, Kentaro loves the degree of difficulty that the game brings.
“I love that it is not an easy sport to play,” Mori said. “The level of difficulty is what makes it that much more fun when you succeed.”
The future is very bright for the Japanese freshman and it will only get brighter.
“I think when he gets a little faster and stronger he will be an excellent baseball player,” Doorey said. “Kentaro is a very hard-working athlete and a fun kid to have around.”
Email Kyle Espejo at email@example.com