“Lee Jung-hoo is good, but I’m more interested in Kim Hye-sung.”
In a recent meeting, a Major League Baseball (ML) scout expressed his interest in Kim Hye-sung (24, Kiwoom Heroes). He was impressed with her athleticism, but also her work ethic, which eventually helped the team erase the humiliation of its longest losing streak since its inception.
On 8 August, Kiwoom defeated the Lotte Giants 10-8 in their regular season home game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, Seoul. With the win, their first in August, Kiwoom snapped a nine-game losing streak, tied for the longest since their inception in 2008.
Like most teams, it wasn’t easy for Kiwoom to break out of the losing streak. Leading 10-3 in the top of the ninth, Joo Seung-woo drew three consecutive walks to load the bases. ‘Madanggok’ Lee Myung-jong was brought in, but the situation was not resolved. Closer Lim Chang-min was brought in, but only after giving up three more runs. The final score was 10-8, just two points away. If it wasn’t for the big lead, Kiwoom would have lost its first 10 games in a row.
In that sense, it’s important to mention Kim Hye-sung’s fight in the third inning, which was the start of the big run. In fact, Kim Hye-sung’s physical condition was so bad that even Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki didn’t want to send her out. The previous day (8 August), Kim had been substituted after suffering a bruised left knee when she was hit by her own foul ball in the game against Gocheok Lotte.
Before the game, Hong said, “I originally planned to rest her today, but she was very determined to play. It doesn’t seem to be a common bruise. Kim Hye-sung is not a player who usually announces her intention to be substituted in the middle of a game. If a player like her asks to be substituted, it means that she is very tired.” Hong was worried and explained, “Kim Hye-sung expressed her intention to play when she checked her body earlier today (9th). However, the defence thought it was too much for her, so she will play as a designated hitter.”
In the end, Kim Hye-sung was forced to play, and she flew through every at-bat. She warmed up her bat with a single in the first inning, and in the third inning, with the score tied 1-1, she hit a single up the middle that sailed over the second baseman’s head. The most impressive play came next. After advancing to third on a Ronnie Dawson single and a Song Sung-moon walk, Kim sprinted home on Lee Joo-hyung’s grounder to first base. Lotte first baseman Ko Seung-min panicked and threw home, allowing Dawson to score and make the score 4-1.
Kim Tae-jin followed with a two-run double to make it 6-1, giving Kiwoom a lead it would not relinquish despite a bullpen blitz in the ninth inning. She went on to finish 3-for-4 with a double and a sacrifice fly, with two RBIs and two runs scored, and was praised by the broadcasters for her at-bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, saying, “Today, Kim Hye-sung made every at-bat count, every at-bat count.”
However, the real hero of the game was Kim after the game. “Unless my leg is broken, I have to play,” Kim said, adding, “My leg is uncomfortable, but it’s not so bad that I can’t play at all. I told the coach to take me out of defence because I don’t feel 100 per cent and I don’t think I can help the team. In defence, I thought it would be an inconvenience to the pitcher and the team if I wasn’t 100 per cent,” he explained.
She was more happy to end the losing streak than her performance. “The best thing is that we broke the losing streak. The other players played so well that I felt comfortable in the dugout,” she said, adding, “I’m not the leader of the team. I’m just a member of the team and I was upset. “I was just upset as a member of the team, and we were all just trying to work together as a team, and I think it’s good that we broke the losing streak.
The next question was why Lee Jung-hoo, whose work ethic is one of the best in the KBO, was favoured by major league scouts. Kim is known for his self-care, which is admired by his seniors and juniors, as he rarely eats ramen a year. But there’s one thing she’s not good at: shortstop defence. Although she is personally attached to it, it is not as easy as it sounds in practice.안전놀이터
“I sleep a lot during the off-season, thinking, ‘I’ll be well-rested after the season,'” Kim said. I think it’s the same for anyone who wants to play,” she said, adding, “I said I wanted to play shortstop, but I couldn’t do it. I wanted to do well, but I made one mistake after another and it didn’t help the team. But I’m always prepared. I’m just disappointed that it didn’t pay off,” he said.
With 42 wins, three draws and 58 points, Kiwoom remained ninth on the table, ahead of Samsung Lions (40 wins, one draw and 56 points), who beat Doosan Bears on the same day. With 41 games to go, they are 9.5 points behind fifth-placed Doosan (48 wins, 1 draw, 45 losses). “I think we can only go up from here,” said Kim Hye-sung. Everyone said, ‘Let’s go up’ after breaking the losing streak, and I’m glad it happened today. I hope we can do better,” she smiled.