PREVIEW: Women’s Softball Asia Cup 2023, Incheon, South Korea

 Current world rankings of women teams’ could well be thrown out of the window, as teams are expected to battle tooth and nail for the four spots available for the XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup next July in Europe from the Women’s Softball Asia Cup 2023 starting tomorrow in Incheon, South Korea.

Datuk Low Beng Choo chairing the team managers meeting with the others members of the organising committee members

The extra wild card slot, besides the earlier announced top three teams in the final standings who will advance to the WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup, was announced by Softball Asia president, Datuk Low Beng Choo at the briefing of umpires and scorers in the afternoon and later at the per-tournamentTeam Leaders-Managers Meeting today.

“This is indeed great news for Asia, for the first time we have been accorded a fourth slot in any World Cup. We had to fight hard and convince that Asia deserves the slot and we are grateful and happy that our wish for a fourth slot has been granted,” said Low, who is also the secretary-general of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

Team managers and officials applauding the umpires as they are introduced

“I expect all teams competing to battle hard to be among the top four teams to compete in the prestigious World Cup.”

Low said that this year’s tournament is very significant because besides the extra World Cup berth and the coveted Asian title, it is also the prelude to the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, where teams will be checking out each other’s strength.

The nine countries competing at the continental event which will take place at LNG Sports Town in Incheon, Korea starting tomorrow till 8th April, are ranked as follows: World No. 2 Japan; No. 3 Chinese Taipei; No. 13 China; No. 30 Philippines; No. 35 Korea; No. 38 Hong Kong China; No. 42 Singapore; No. 46 Thailand and No. 53 India.

The defending champion in the championship held last in Jakarta in 2019 was Japan, while China finished runners-up. Chinese Taipei finished third, while Philippines finished fourth.

Besides the top four ranked teams, host Korea who are ranked fifth, will definitely be one team to watch out for to finish among the top four, as surely they want to use their home ground and support to their fullest advantage and do their nation proud, to qualify for the World Cup.

Kores Baseball Softball  president, Lee Chong Hoon, greeted the wild card entry with delight and said that his team will do their very best to book a World Cup berth.

Umpires for the tournament present at the team leaders and coaches briefing session.

“It is not easy, as we will be competing with more experienced teams who are ranked higher and have come here to book their World Cup berth too,” said Lee.

“But we have tried our best to be equally prepared for this competition and will give our best shot,” said Lee modestly.

Korea open their campaign tomorrow morning against Thailand in the opening match of the tournament, where the Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City, Yoo Jeong-bok, will officially declare open the tournament and will throw their first pitch.

Korea play their second game of the day in the afternoon against Philippines.

The teams will open the tournament with a round robin, with the top four teams in the standings advancing to the semifinals (first place vs fourth place; second place vs third place) on April 7. The bronze medal game, will be played on April 8 at 8:30 local time, while the final is scheduled at 11:00.

Revised Tournament Schedule

At the team leaders-managers meeting later in the evening, chaired by Low, the roll-call and introduction was done, before the announcement of appointments by Softball Asia for:

Tournament Director:  Datuk Low Beng Choo (Softball Asia President/secretary-general WBSC)

Deputy Tournament Director:  See Kok Wooi (Malaysia)

Head of Secretariat: Sally Lim Swee Gaik (Secretary-General Softball Asia)

Technical Commissioners:  See Kok Wooi (Malaysia), Woo Jisuk (Korea), Lee Chong Fai Cherfy (Hong Kong)

Umpire Director: Paulo Tabirara (Philippines)

Deputy  Umpire Director: Rosli Ismail (Malaysia)

WBSC-SA Umpires Course Director: Mark Porteous (New Zealand)

Scorers Director: Tan Chia Mien (Singapore)

Scorers: An Woojun, Yang Seungcheon (both Korea) & Liu Ho Fai (Hong Kong)

Head of Media: Tony Mariadass (Malaysia)

This was followed by the briefing on technical matters relating to team roster and eligibility, competition schedule and competition format, tournament terms and conditions, regulations and procedures, protests, ejections, suspensions and appeals before questions from the floor was fielded.

Team managers meeting

Before the conclusion of the meeting, a briefing by the Local Organising Committee on accommodation, food, transport and liaison was conducted.

A final question and session for the floor was held before the meeting was adjourned.

The toss of coin to decide the ‘Home and Away’ team for the fixtures, checks and verification on each team was also conducted, equipment checks and indemnity forms from all participants and officials were collected, after the meeting.

It’s Game Time tomorrow.