The ninth World Cup of Softball is sure to deliver some fantastic results, as the competition will be fierce amongst the tournament's top squads.
The United States has won six of eight championships, while Japan has won the other two. In both years that Japan won (2005 and 2013), the U.S. came in second. The win by Japan last season was quite the upset, so it will be interesting to see if the United States can exact revenge on its rivals.
There's more to the field than just these two teams, however. TeamUSA.org pointed out that this is a big year for the event:
This marks a historic year for the General Tire World Cup of Softball as a record eight countries, including Canada, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela, are scheduled to participate. This also marks the first time the event heads west to Irvine, Calif. due to ongoing renovations at OGE Energy Field at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
With eight teams competing to be No. 1, there will certainly be some fireworks from Irvine. Don't miss a single pitch of the action.
*All games can be seen online via USASoftball.com.
|World Cup of Softball 2014 Schedule|
|July 7||11 a.m.||Philippines vs. Venezuela||No broadcast|
|2 p.m.||Venezuela vs. Chinese Tapei||No broadcast|
|4:30 p.m.||Canada vs. Japan||No broadcast|
|7 p.m.||USA vs. Mexico - Exhibition||No broadcast|
|July 8||11 a.m.||Venezuela vs. Japan||No broadcast|
|2 p.m.||Philippines vs. Mexico||No broadcast|
|4:30 p.m.||Canada vs. Chinese Tapei||No broadcast|
|7 p.m.||USA vs. Venezuela||No broadcast|
|July 9||11 a.m.||Philippines vs. Canada||No broadcast|
|2 p.m.||Canada vs. Venezuela||No broadcast|
|4:30 p.m.||Japan vs. Mexico||No broadcast|
|7 p.m.||USA vs. Philippines||No broadcast|
|July 10||12:30 p.m.||Chinese Tapei vs. Mexico||No broadcast|
|6 p.m.||USA vs. Canada - Pink Game||ESPN|
|8:30 p.m.||Japan vs. Philippines||No broadcast|
|July 11||10 a.m.||Mexico vs. Venezuela||No broadcast|
|12:30 p.m.||Chinese Tapei vs. Philippines||No broadcast|
|6 p.m.||USA vs. Japan||ESPN|
|July 12||10 a.m.||USA vs. Mexico||ESPN2|
|12:30 p.m.||Mexico vs. Canada||No broadcast|
|5 p.m.||USA vs. Chinese Tapei||ESPN2|
|7 p.m.||Chinese Tapei vs. Japan||No broadcast|
|July 13||10 a.m.||Seed 1 vs. Seed 2||ESPN|
|12:30 p.m.||Seed 7 vs. Seed 6||No broadcast|
|2 p.m.||Seed 5 vs. WINNER of Seed 7 vs. Seed 6||No broadcast|
|4 p.m.||Seed 3 vs. Seed 4||No broadcast|
Team USA is gearing up for yet another strong run at the title, and its highlight tape for the upcoming tournament proves the hype surrounding this team:
Rosters for this World Cup of Softball are limited to just 17 players, and it's often hard to narrow a team down to 17 after having many more try out. That's the problem USA Softball head coach Ken Eriksen had prior to making cuts, via NFCA.org:
This group of 24 athletes that tried out is one of the rarest groups I’ve been around in a long time. Their college coaches, parents and teammates need to understand the greatness that is within each and every one of them. As always, it’s a very tough decision to narrow the group to 17 but I’m very excited about the potential this team has.
The final 17-woman roster can be found here, courtesy of TeamUSA.org.
During last year's tournament, the United States' roster featured 12 rookies. It didn't show in the first two games of play, as they took care of business against both Canada (7-0) and Australia (4-0). After the United States and Japan, those two teams are widely considered the top competitors in international softball.
It was an impressive start to the tourney for such a young team, but Japan quickly ended the winning streak by defeating Team USA in its third game, 7-4.
All four of the pitchers on the United States' roster were international rookies last year. Some struggles in the tournament were to be expected.
Those struggles should be a thing of the past this time around, though, as inexperience can no longer be used as a valid excuse.
Look for young sluggers like Amanda Chidester and Lauren Gibson to step up and carry the load offensively. They'll likely get good pitches to hit given the lineup protection surrounding them, and that could make for some high-scoring affairs for the stars and stripes.
This tournament will certainly be exciting. Don't miss out on the ninth installment of this great event.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR
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