LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Marking 50 days prior to Opening Day, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today unveiled the groups and a 54-game schedule for the XII WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship, which will be staged from 7-15 July in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

The 13 National Teams competing For the Title of World Champion have been drawn into two groups and will begin the global battle with a round robin.

Group A: No. 3 Japan, No. 4 Argentina, No. 5 Australia, No. 9 Mexico, No. 11 Denmark, No. 14 South Africa and No. 16 India.

Group B: No. 1 New Zealand, No. 2 Canada, No. 6 USA, No. 7 Czech Republic, No. 15 Guatemala and No. 17 Hong Kong.

The top four nations from each group will advance to the playoffs.

The Guatemalan and Hong Kong Junior National Softball Teams will be making their historic World Championship debuts from Group B.

“This global showcase will feature the top young under-19 men’s softball players in the world and National Teams from five continents,” said WBSC Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez. “The hosts in Prince Albert are ready to roll out an exciting world stage for these elite athletes, who will have 54 games to prove who’s the best in the world.”

The Organising Committee of the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship 2018 Prince Albert said: “The host committee, along with the city of Prince Albert, is extremely excited to welcome the world in July! We are thrilled to be bringing world caliber softball to our city and province.”

There will be a total of seven games on Opening Day (Saturday, 7 July) at Prince Albert’s Max Power Ball Parks, with Mexico and Denmark’s 10:00 a.m. contest serving as the official opener.

Following the Opening Ceremony at 6:00 p.m, host nation Canada will take on cross-border rival United States at 7:30 p.m.

The World Championship Final will be played on Sunday, 15 July, at 3:00 p.m., following the bronze medal game at 12:00 p.m.

At the last WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in 2016, Japan dethroned two-time defending World Champions Argentina.

Tickets sales for the tournament have been launched, with Early Bird specials now available. Children under the age of 12, accompanied by their parent, are free of charge.