BLACKTOWN, Australia – Six of the world’s top 12 ranked softball national teams will converge at the WBSC-sanctioned Asia Pacific Softball Cup this weekend. The four-day event will be held at 2000 Olympic Softball venue – Blacktown International Sportspark – starting tomorrow through Sunday (1-4 February) and will represent the biggest international women’s softball event in Australia since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Competing countries include World No. 2 Japan, No. 4 Australia, No. 5 Chinese Taipei, No. 9 Italy, No. 11 New Zealand, and No. 12 China, plus an Australian All-Star team.

In the 26-game tournament, each team will play six round-robin games, with the top four advancing to the playoffs.

The Asia Pacific Cup will continue a recent boom in women’s softball throughout the region. Japan has a professional league for many years, Chinese Taipei launched their own professional league in 2016, while China and Australia have entered teams in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league in the USA this year.

The tournament takes on extra significance as this event can be seen as an official launching pad for the national teams for the 2018 WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, which will be held in Chiba, Japan, from August 2-12. The nation crowned world champions in Chiba will automatically qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Softball Australia CEO Chet Gray says the Asia Pacific Cup will have multiple benefits for softball in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. “It’s an exciting prospect to be having six of the top 12 ranked teams in women’s softball playing here in Australia,” he says.

“This event will showcase the outstanding talent that we have in this part of the world. Tournaments such as this will further develop softball and raise the profile of softball in the region. We plan on hosting the Asia Pacific Cup as an annual event, providing us with a solid domestic platform for growth in the lead-up to qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games”.

Held in conjunction with the event will be the Hall of Fame induction of Australian Olympian’s Natalie Ward and Melanie Roche.