World Cup of Softball 2014: Picks and Predictions for Entire Tournament

Nate LoopFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2014

United State's Jessica Moore, right, walks back to her team after accepting her second place medal following the World Cup of Softball tournament championship game against Japan in Oklahoma City, Sunday, July 14, 2013. Japan won 6-3. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

If you're a fan of United States team sports and in a lingering patriotic mood, the 2014 World Cup of Softball has got you covered. Team USA will look to capture its seventh title in this event starting July 7 at Bill Barber Park in Irvine, California.

This isn't a tournament that leaves the masses wanting for four years like the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics, but the burgeoning event is growing into an annual summer tradition for softball fans.

The inaugural World Cup of Softball was in 2005, and the tournament has run every year since then save for a single hiatus in 2008. West Coast fans of the sport should consider themselves lucky as this will be the largest World Cup of Softball ever, with seven national teams participating from across the globe.

Here are picks for the entire tournament, followed by a preview of who and what to watch for in this event.

2014 World Cup of Softball Schedule and Predictions
DateTime (PDT)MatchupPrediction
July 711:00 a.m.Philippines vs. VenezuelaVenezuela
July 72:00 p.m.Venezuela vs. Chinese-TaipeiChinese-Taipei
July 74:30 p.m.Canada vs. JapanJapan
July 77:00 p.m.USA vs. Mexico* (exhibition)USA
July 811:00 a.m.Venezuela vs. JapanJapan
July 82:00 p.m.Philippines vs. MexicoMexico
July 84:30 p.m.Canada vs. Chinese-TaipeiCanada
July 87:00 p.m.USA vs. VenezuelaUSA
July 911:00 a.m.Philippines vs. CanadaCanada
July 92:00 p.m.Canada vs. VenezuelaVenezuela
July 94:30 p.m.Japan vs. MexicoJapan
July 97:00 p.m.USA vs. PhilippinesUSA
July 1012:30 p.m.Chinese-Taipei vs. MexicoChinese-Taipei
July 106:00 p.m.USA vs. Canada (Pink Game)USA
July 108:30 p.m.Japan vs. PhilippinesJapan
July 1110:00 a.m.Mexico vs. VenezuelaMexico
July 1112:30 p.m.Chinese-Taipei vs. PhilippinesPhilippines
July 116:00 p.m.USA vs. JapanUSA
July 1210:00amUSA vs. MexicoMexico
July 1212:30 p.m.Mexico vs. CanadaCanada
July 125:00 p.m.USA vs. Chinese-TaipeiUSA
July 127:00 p.m.Chinese-Taipei vs. JapanJapan
July 1310:00 a.m.No. 1 USA vs. No. 2 JapanUSA
July 1312:30 p.m.No. 7 Philippines vs. No. 6 VenezuelaVenezuela
July 132:00 p.m.No. 5 Chinese-Taipei vs. No. 6 VenezuelaChinese-Taipei
July 134:00 p.m.No. 3 Canada vs. No. 4 MexicoCanada, *exhibition, does not count toward standings


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Tournament Preview

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

This is an event the United States almost always dominates from the first pitch to the final out. They've won six of the eight World Cups and never finished worse than second place.

In fact, the United States took first and third place in 2010, as the Futures squad entered the tournament and proved they were nearly as strong as the senior team.

Japan is the only other winner of this tournament, and the defending champions are the favorites alongside the host nation. They defeated the United States 6-3 in the final of the 2013 World Cup of Softball.

Lauren Gibson will lead the way for the United States in the batter's box. The former University of Tennessee Volunteer was named the 2013 SEC Player of the Year after posting a .401 batting average, 19 home runs, 68 RBI and just 17 strikeouts. She was a member of Team USA for the 2011 and 2012 World Cup wins.

On the mound, look for Sara Nevins, a key member of last year's squad, to reestablish her dominance. The left-handed Nevins is a former University of Oregon standout. She posted a 26-9 record with a 1.20 ERA as a senior for the Ducks in 2013.

Sara Groenewegen will establish herself as a key threat for Canada. She's coming off a stellar freshman season for the University of Minnesota, going 14-3 with a 2.23 ERA on the mound while slugging 11 home runs and posting a .418 on-base percentage.

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Canada will look to break up the stranglehold Japan and the United States have on this tournament; they've never finished better than third place in this event.

Kana Nakano will return to play for Japan; she was the pitcher of record in Japan's win over the United States in the 2013 title game.

As for the remaining teams, this is the first World Cup of Softball appearance for Chinese-Taipei, Mexico and the Philippines. Venezuela will participate in this event for the first time since 2011.

Look for the United States and Japan to run the table, with the host nation getting a revenge victory and taking the title in this year's competition.