As the eighth Women’s Baseball World Cup gets going in Viera, Florida, the host team finds itself listed among the contenders. That’s not surprising, considering that the game of baseball evolved on American shores.
But to claim the gold medal, Team USA, who are hosting the event for the first time, will have to get past a Japanese team that established a dynasty in the sport.
Japan comes into the biennial event as not only the top seed but also the top seed in the world, having won the last five World Cups (2008, ’10, 12, ’14, ’16). Team USA won the first two. Canada is seeded second and the United States third.
The U.S. roster features 20 players who range in age from 17 to 43. Fourteen of the 20 have played for the U.S. national team in the past.
The senior member of the squad is lefthanded pitcher Ila Borders, who played baseball for two different collegiate men’s teams before going on to pitch professionally for four seasons in the independent Northern League.
The tournament features a field of 12, which is divided into two groups of six. Group A includes the United States, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico. Group B consists of Japan, Canada, Australia, Cuba, Hong Kong, Dominican Republic.
In the opening round, each team will play every other team in its group.
The United States opened play on Wednesday with a 14-0 win over Puerto Rico and was scheduled to play the Netherlands Thursday night. The Americans will face South Korea on Friday, Venezuela on Saturday, and Chinese Taipei on Sunday,
Following the preliminary round, The top three teams in each group will advance to the Super Round in which the three qualifiers from Group A will meet their counterparts from the other group.
Four teams of the six, determined by their overall records will advance to the final round, with the top two teams playing for the gold medal and the remaining two for the bronze.