“The two-stage format is a great opportunity for additional teams to be able to play at the highest level while also providing added exposure for various host cities, which is great for the sport of softball,” said USA head coach Heather Tarr, who will lead the 12-time champions in their 17th WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup appearance – along with Australia and New Zealand the only teams to have played in all editions of the tournament – when Group A play gets underway on Tuesday at the Balbriggan All Weather Field in Fingal-Dublin in Ireland.
“To be able to bring this game to countries that may not know a ton about it is a special thing and we’re just so proud to be here,” Tarr added.
Group A in Fingal-Dublin, Ireland sees world No. 1 USA taking on hosts and world No. 17 Ireland, No. 9 Australia, No. 3 Chinese Taipei, No. 16 Great Britain and No. 43 Botswana with the the top two teams moving on to next year’s Finals in Italy.
On the eve of the tournament, Tarr was confident in her team’s ability to win a fourth world championship tittle in a row. “Our goal is to always play our best, and to obviously finish on top but ultimately to see how good Team USA can get while we’re here in Ireland,” she said.
Head Coach Quotes by Team
Australia coach Laing Harrow:
Tournament Hopes: “We’re excited to be here in Ireland. It’s the first time for us to be as a team in Ireland. We want to reach the World Cup Finals next year, we have prepared well, spent time in Prague and have a good quality bunch of games under our belt.”
Team Preparation: “We had a great set up in Prague, Czech Softball looked after us, we played quality opposition such as the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei and the Czech Republic. We have some experience players in pitching, but we’re focused on working together as a group, working as a team.
New Two Stage Format: No different to what the Men’s World Cup was and we had some success with it. It’s the same for everyone, it will be a challenge, while the finals are a bit different. We’ve talked a bit about it a little as a team but before we experience it we won’t have complete feedback.
Botswana coach Mosupakwena Ross:
Tournament Hopes: “We hope to book a ticket in the Finals and be amongst the top eight in the world. We also want to grow as a team and just like in any other tournaments, to share ideas together.”
Team Preparation: “As a country we believe we have prepared well for the games. We managed to have some friendly games which has helped us to prepare for this opportunity to play against the best softball players in the world.
New Two Stage Format: “As opposed to the old stage, the two stage is expensive to us, having to transport the team twice for a single competition. Other teams might fail to reach top eight because of the seeding, while in the previous stage they could have got into the top eight. Some countries will never make to top eight since they will never qualify.”
Chinese Taipei coach Han Hsin-Lin:
Tournament Hopes: “We hope we can do our best and play every game well, to improve from our previous performances… and more importantly, to advance to the Finals.
Team Preparation: “We have been preparing at home with our national competition, with the Asian Games in September in mind. However, for this event, we went to the Netherlands and Czechia, to adapt to the time difference and have some matches with local and National Teams, that helped us a lot.”
New Two Stage Format: “For us is just assess the arrangements. We’re enjoying the staging and enjoying the game. It’s a great experience for us to come here to Ireland, is so fresh…just an amazing experience.”
Great Britain coach Tara Henry:
Tournament Hopes: “Goals for Great Britain are to simply compete, we qualified for the World Cup earning a silver medal at the European Championship and our goal is to compete, go out every day and take every pitch with the best of our ability. You will see a lot of discipline and a lot of passion to show the world in what we’re working on here.”
“This World Cup is the beginning of a long term process to build towards 2028. With proper time together with the athletes and proper facilities this is the beginning of that process of developing a culture of excellence and providing an environment for the athletes to thrive and be able to train with one and other.”
Team Preparation: “We had the first professional game in England with the Oklahoma City Spark and to face competition like that is not only being able for us to know how to prepare better, but there are some things that we need to work on, and also play the best players in the world, because at the end of the day we have the potential to definitively not only be leaders in the pack in terms of hard work and excellence, but hopefully build a programme that will be able to be on the main stage, like the World Cup, for many years to come.”
New Two Stage Format: “I think having three groups has been incredible for Europe to host the tournament and be the hub for the World Cup, and be at the forefront of the three stage tournament I think it’s definitively the right direction. In terms of the Two-Stage Format, I think it allows for nations and various programmes to prepare for not only the World Cup now, but also the 2028 Olympics. There have been some challenges, but with challenges comes growth, and growth has challenges, so we’re working through those, but I think it’s exciting for the sport and exciting for international softball.”
Ireland coach Melanie Cunningham:
Tournament Hopes: “As the host nation for Group A, it’s an honour to represent Ireland in front of a home crowd in Balbriggan. On the field, we think we have a great chance of reaching the final stage of the World Cup, and to do so we have to make sure that we’re one of the four nations competing in the play-offs on Saturday.
“We also hope to leave a lasting softball legacy in Balbriggan and Ireland as we compete in this wonderful purpose-built stadium that has kindly been provided by Fingal County Council.”
Team Preparation: “The team’s preparation has been good. We spent a few days in Limerick, where we trained hard in preparation for the tournament, before returning to Balbriggan last Thursday. Some of our girls got to showcase their skills in front of a national audience on Virgin Media’s Ireland AM TV show which was a lot of fun!
“Full focus has remained on the tournament throughout, and ensuring that we go as far as we can.”
New Two Stage Format: “I think the new two stage format is not unexpected and aligns more with how other sports progress major championships. Given softball’s variable presence in the Olympics over the last 15 years, it ensures continued competition at the highest level. By allowing group hosting in three different countries it increases the visibility and tremendous athleticism of these exceptional athletes.
“By Saturday, four of the six nations in our group will still be competing for those two spots in the final stages, and it all makes for a really competitive week.”
USA coach Heather Tarr:
Tournament Hopes: “Our goal is to always play our best, and to obviously finish on top but ultimately to see how good Team USA can get while we’re here in Ireland.”
Team Preparation: “We’re fortunate for the increased opportunities that our athletes are receiving in the United States – even if it’s outside of the Team USA rosters. Athletes are able to improve their skill and development in the college game, the WPF and Athletes Unlimited or overseas in Japan. As our roster has come together for the first time just three days ago, we’re somewhat relying on their individual preparations while also enjoying being together and getting familiar with each other on the field.”
New two-stage format: “The two-stage format is a great opportunity for additional teams to be able to play at the highest level while also providing added exposure for various host cities, which is great for the sport of softball. To be able to bring this game to countries that may not know a ton about it is a special thing and we’re just so proud to be here.”