On Saturday, 10 August, will open in Irvine, California, USA, the U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup, the highest youth international competition in our sport. The top 16 teams in the world will compete at Bill Barber Memorial Park, For the Title of World Champion.
The teams were divided into four groups:
- Group A: USA (1), Mexico (5), Czech Republic (15), Botswana (43).
- Group B: Japan (2), Australia (7), Italy (9), South Africa (28).
- Group C: Puerto Rico (4), China (8), Brazil (14), Ireland (22).
- Group D: Canada (3), Chinese Taipei (6), Netherlands (10), New Zealand (11).
After the 3-day Opening Round, the top two teams in each group will advance to the Super Round. Nations finishing third and fourth place in the Opening Round will play the Placement Round.
The host team and two-time defending world champion USA is the favourite to claim Group A’s top spot. The number 1 team in the world has participated in all 12 previous editions of this event, claiming the title in six times(1987, 1995, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2017), the last two in a row. In July the USA Junior National Team participated in the International Cup, finishing third place (only behind the top two ranked nations in the world: USA and Japan). The host team is looking for an unprecedented three-peat in this age category.
For Mexico, it will be the seventh appearance in this event (1981, 1985, 1987, 2013, 2015, 2017). In Clearwater 2017 they finished ninth place, while their best position ever was the fifth place in 2015, in Oklahoma City.
Czech Republic arrives in Irvine as the third place in the European Championship 2018. A 12-8 victory over the Netherlands gave them the automatic qualification to the U-19 World Cup. This is their eighth participation in the tournament (1991, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017), and they are coming from their best performance ever: the eighth place in Clearwater 2017, where they made the playoffs for the first time. They will look to repeat this year in Irvine.
After six years of absence, Botswana is back at the U-19 World Cup for their fourth participation ever. The African nation is still looking for their first-ever win in this event since their only three participation (2007, 2011 and 2013) ended with a 0-7 record.