HOST Chinese Taipei and Philippines, will be looking forward to qualifying for their third category in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Cup series, when the U15 Women’s Softball Asia Cup gets underway tomorrow at the Fu-Hsing Softball Stadium in Puli Township, Nantou, Chinese Taipei.
Chinese Taipei and Philippines have earlier qualified for the respective World Cup from the Asia Cup for Women’s Softball held in Icheon, Korea and Co-Ed Slow Pitch at Pattaya, Thailand.
Japan who are competing here in Puli too, have qualified for both the above tournaments, but have an automatic berth for the maiden WBSC U-15 Women’s Softball World Cup, scheduled for 21-29 October in Tokyo, Japan, thus leaving the two spots from the Puli tournament, to be battled out among the six other teams competing here.
The other teams competing in this Puli township which is in the centre of Chinese Taipei, which is basin surrounded by rising and falling mountains, hills and farmland, are Hong Kong China, India, Korea and Singapore.
While Japan are favourites to wrest the Asia Cup together with Chinese Taipei, the other teams too cannot be ruled out for a top four finish.
Korea, Hong Kong China and Singapore could spring a few surprises.
Japan certainly come to Puli in high spirits and well prepared, having hosted the invitational and WBSC sanctioned, Utsugi Cup, where they lost to No 1 USA in extras in the final.
Six U-15 National Teams from four continents participated in the weekend event at Takasaki City Softball Field, Utsugi Stadium in Takasaki City, Gunma. In addition to USA and Japan, No.6 Mexico, No.8 Italy, No.11 China and Tanzania also participated.
For the bronze medal game, Mexico defeated China, 2-1. USA, Japan, Mexico and Italy have already qualified for the U15 World Cup.
The Utsugi Cup is named after Japan softball legend Taeko Utsugi, who guided Japan to two Olympic medals as a head coach, and she currently serves as WBSC Executive Board Member.
After the Under-15 Asia Cup here, there will be three more Asia Cups, for U18 Men’s and Men’s (both in Kochi, Japan, June 23-28) and U18 Women’s (Pingtan, China Aug 29 – Sept 2) be held and also serve as World Cup qualifiers
Indeed, a busy calendar for Softball Asia, but it augurs well for the sport with competition for all age-group and gender.
All participating teams had their official practice today, before the team managers’ meeting in the evening chaired by Softball Asia president Datuk Low Beng Choo.
Tomorrow’s fixtures :
9.00am Philippines v India
10.30am Japan v Singapore
12.00 pm Hong Kong v India
1.30pm Philippines v Korea
2.30pm Opening Ceremony
4.00pm Chinese Taipei v Singapore