22/02/2020 - 01/03/2020

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U-18 Men's Softball World Cup 2020 - Official Payoff

U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup: A tournament for the ages

U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup: A tournament for the ages
09/03/2020
Four different continents were represented in the top four places at the WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup for the first time in another showcase of softball’s global expansion and development.

The first ever U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup came to an end at the start of this month, with Japan claiming the world championship for the third time in history. Palmerston North in New Zealand was the softball epicentre for nine days, hosting a fantastic tournament with an important meaning for the future of softball in New Zealand and all around the world.

The WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup 2020 was the first competition in this age bracket, replacing the former Junior Men’s Softball World Championship, for U-19 athletes, and marking the beginning of the brand new Softball World Cup brand.

It will definitely leave a long lasting legacy for the local community. Two world-class diamonds have been built for this event, with a beautiful clubhouse, four locker rooms for the teams, two locker rooms for umpires, a medical room and a multi purpose room, making Colquhoun Park one of the top fields in New Zealand.

This is a huge boost for softball in the Manawatu region and the country as a whole. Lower Hutt, Christchurch and Auckland have hosted softball world championships before, but this is the first regional association to host a global softball event, allowing softball in New Zealand to expand to other places and cities, reaching more and more people.

For the first time four different continents were represented in the top four places, in another showcase of softball’s global expansion and development. Japan (Asia) and Australia (Oceania) faced again in the World Championship Game, while the Czech Republic (Europe) and Argentina (the Americas) played the Bronze Medal Game.

Japan claimed their third title. The new world champions proved to be the best team in the tournament, in all facets of the game. Japan’s offence was outstanding during the tournament, with a .366 average (the second best of the tournament, only behind 2018 defending champions Australia -.386-) and aggressive and impressive base running, totalling 16 stolen bases. The Japanese pitching staff led the teams in ERA, with a microscopic 1.59, and their defense was the best with only 7 errors in the entire event for a .960 fielding percentage.

Japan has been one of the powerhouses in the youth Men’s Softball global stage since the beginning. They have participated in every tournament since 1981, winning three championships (only behind Australia, leading with 5 world titles) and medalling 11 times.

Japan was crowned for the first time in 1981 in Edmonton, Canada, in the first edition of the Junior Men’s Softball World Championship. They ended the 5-team round robin in second place, with a 5-3 record, and then beat twice USA in the page playoffs to claim the title.

They had to wait 35 years to be back on top of the podium. In 2016 Japan went undefeated to sweep the Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in Midland, USA, defeating New Zealand in the final by a score of 2-1.  

For Australia, the most successful nation in the world in this category, it was their first silver medal. Before arriving in Palmerston North, they had played five World Championship Games, winning all of them.  

The Czech Republic had a historic campaign in the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup, with their first ever medal in the history of the youth events. Guided by right-handed pitcher Jakub Osicka, who totalled 84 strikeouts in the tournament, the European champions claimed the bronze medal game against Argentina, 2-0.

In previous events, the Czech’s best finish had been a seventh place in 2014 and 2018. They became the eighth country in the history to claim a medal in the youth event, along with Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and USA.

Guatemala also had a tournament for the records, advancing to the Super Round for the first time in just their second appearance in the competition. In 2018, they made their debut and finished in 11th position, with an overall win:loss record of 2-6.

The eight-time medallist Canada swept the Placement Round to finish the tournament in the seventh place. The red and white team had a disappointing Opening Round and dropped out of the Super Round. The seventh place is the worst position ever for Canada in a youth men’s softball global competition.

Mexico finished eighth place while Singapore ended in the top ten for the first time, with a historic ninth place. The Asian nation ended the tournament with an overall 2-6 record.

South Africa completed the top 10, with back to back victories over Denmark and USA to close the tournament and end what was truly a memorable tournament.


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