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XVII Women's Softball World Cup 2023 - Group B - Official Payoff

XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup: 12 players to watch

XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup: 12 players to watch
27/06/2023
With an eccentric mix of world champions, Olympic medallists and future super stars across the 18 teams, here's a look at 12 players from this year’s tournament who are worth watching and worth your attention in the Group Stage. One of the most electric players in the game, Aleshia Ocasio (pictured) is a two-way player who can impact the game both from the pitching circle and the batting box.

The XVII WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup, the biggest international softball competition of the year, will feature some of the greatest and most talented players in the world across three groups to be played in Ireland, Spain and Italy. 

There's an eccentric mix of world champions, Olympic champions and future super stars across the 18 teams. Here's a look at 12 players from this year’s tournament who are worth keep an eye on during the Group Stage (in alphabetical order): Yuruby Alicart (VEN), Ally Carda (USA), Georgina Corrick (GBR), Miu Goto (JPN), Sara Groenewegen (CAN), Hsia-Ai Ke (TPE), Aleshia Ocasio (PUR), Erika Piancastelli (ITA), Uxua Modrego (ESP), Yilian Tornes (CUB), Taylah Tsitsikronis (AUS) and Britt Vonk (NED).

Yuruby Alicart (VEN) – Group C - @Yuruby1

Yuruby Alicart came out of retirement to lead the new generation of Venezuelan softball players and help take them to the next level. The Beijing 2008 veteran (who finished the Olympic Games 2008 with a .333 batting average and a home run) led Venezuela to a fifth-place finish at the Pan American Championship 2022, earning an automatic ticket to the WBSC Women's Softball World Cup 2023/2024. Alicart was a cornerstone player in Venezuela’s squad that finished fifth in the World Cup 2010 in Caracas and also represented her country in 2018 in Chiba, where she hit .346 with three home runs, tied for fourth place among the leading home run hitters in the tournament. She also collected five RBIs.

Ally Carda (USA) – Group A - @Acarda3

The two-time defending world champions will rely on Ally Carda’s right arm to lead a young pitching staff in Group A of the World Cup. The 30-year old power pitcher is in her prime, coming from a stellar performance in The World Games Gold Medal Game, striking out seven in three innings of work, while allowing one hit and one walk. Carda went 2-0 in the circle at The World Games 2021 claiming 19 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. With the retirements of Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, the Olympic silver medallist in Tokyo 2020 will mentor youngsters Megan Faraimo, Montana Fouts and Kelly Maxwell in their first World Cup appearance.

Georgina Corrick (GBR) – Group A - @georginacorrick

Born in Basingstoke, England, Corrick and her family moved to the United States when she was three months old. As an 18-year-old newcomer, she was Great Britain’s go-to pitcher in the 2018 World Cup, tossing 34 innings in eight appearance, posting a 2-2 record. She collected 31 strikeouts. A year later, she led her team to a second-place finish at the Europe / Africa Olympic Qualifier, leading the tournament in innings pitched (21) and complete games (3). In 2022, she became the first triple-crown winner in NCAA history, leading the nation in wins (37), strikeouts (418) and ERA (0.51).

Miu Goto (JPN) – Group C -  @miugoto_18

Miu Goto has been labelled as the Japanese ace for many years to come. The 22-year-old lefty is a Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallist vying for her first WBSC World Title. In Tokyo, she pitched 10.2 scoreless innings with 22 strikeouts, walking only three batters in five appearances. She ended the Olympics tied as the winningest pitcher with three victories. Her only World Cup participation is the U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup 2019, where she starred as a two-way player hitting for .500 with five RBIs, while posting a 0.40 ERA. She suffered a heartbreaking loss in the World Championship Game against USA, 4-3 in eight innings, to end up with a silver medal.

Sara Groenewegen (CAN) – Group C - @saragroe

The only survivor of Canada’s Tokyo 2020 silver medal winning pitching staff, Groenewegen is the undisputed ace in the 2023 Canada’s roster. She started five games at the Olympics, posting a 1.05 ERA in 13.1 innings of work, striking out 14 against six walks, helping Canada to win their first Olympic medal in history. This will be Groenewegen’s second World Cup participation, after winning bronze in the 2016 World Cup in Surrey, Canada. She missed the 2018 World Cup after being placed in a 10-day, medically induced coma after contracting Legionnaires disease. She made a full return to the National Team in 2019, in time for the Americas Olympic Qualifier.

Hsia-Ai Ke (TPE) – Group A 

Hsia-Ai Ke is the rising star of the Chinese Taipei Women’s Softball Team. In her short career as a pitcher, she has led her team to two medals in as many international global tournaments. In 2021, she pitched Chinese Taipei to a silver medal at the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup in Lima, Peru, surrendering the final against USA by 1-0. She pitched 27.1 innings across six games, with a 0.77 ERA, making the tournament top-five in wins (leading with three), ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts (18). A year later, she led Chinese Taipei to a bronze medal at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, pitching a complete game shutout against Australia in the bronze medal game. She struck out 14 in 20.1 innings of work, with a 1.72 ERA.

Aleshia Ocasio (PUR) – Group B - @aleshiaocasio

One of the most electric players in the game, Aleshia Ocasio is the face of the Puerto Rico National Team. As a two-way player, Ocasio can impact the game both from the pitching circle and the batting box. She made her debut with Puerto Rico in 2015 and have won a pair of Pan American Games bronze medals. In 2018 she played the World Cup in Chiba, helping Puerto Rico to a fifth-place finish, tying the country’s best position ever. She hit .308 with three homers and eight RBIs, pitching in two games for a 1.75 ERA. She also played at The World Games 2022 winning three games with no losses, with a 0.40 ERA. From the batter’s box, she slashed a .357 batting average. In 2021, she won the Athletes Unlimited softball title.

Erika Piancastelli (ITA) – Group C - @urka_20

One of the most feared sluggers in the game, Erika Piancastelli is a middle-of-the-lineup type of hitter with plenty of power in her bat. Piancastelli will be playing her second WBSC World Cup after her debut in the global stage in Chiba 2018, where she hit .391 with three bombs and five RBIs. Italy finished seventh. A year later, she led her national team to Olympic qualification, hitting .294 in the qualifier, showcased by a moonshot against the Netherlands. She also participated in Tokyo 2020, hitting only two hits in 15 at bats with no extra-bases. During the Group Stage in Buttrio and Castions di Strada, she will be playing only 320 kms. away from her birth-town, Modena.

Uxua Modrego (ESP) – Group B - @uxuario

Uxua Modrego is a power hitter in Spain’s lineup, who was the clean-up hitter during the Euopre / Africa Olympic Qualifier. She hit .333 for the tournament with a pair of RBIs. In 2022, Modrego made the headlines last year by hitting four home runs in a single game in a NCAA Division II match, playing for Texas A&M University-Commerce. During the European Championship 2022, she lead the Spanish offensive with a .391 hitting performance, helping Spain to finish in fifth place. The World Cup Group B will be played less than 500 kms. away from her native Burlada, in Navarra.

Yilian Tornes (CUB) – Group C - @tornesyilian

Left-handed pitcher Yilian Tornes, along with veteran Anisley Lopez, is the leader of the Cuban team. The 31-year-old hurler has played the last three seasons in the Serie A1 in Italy, posting a microscopic 0.51 ERA in 97 innings pitched in the last season, with 159 strikeouts playing for Rheavendors Caronno. She led the Cuban team to a bronze medal at the Pan American Championship 2022, earning a spot in the XVII Women’s Softball World Cup.

Taylah Tsitsikronis (AUS) – Group A - @taylahtits

This will be the fourth WBSC World Championship for the 29-year-old Australian slugger Taylah Tsitsikronis, earning a bronze medal in Haarlem 2014, when the tournament was first played in Europe. She has also played in two Junior World Cups (2011 and 2013), winning bronze in the latter. During Australia’s Asia / Oceania Olympic Qualifier winning campaign, she led the Australian team with a .500 batting average and seven RBIs (tournament leading). During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics she hit .333 with a double and a run scored. Her last official appearance in green and gold uniform was The World Games, where again she hit .333, adding a home run and four RBIs. 

Britt Vonk (NED) – Group B - @britt.vonk18

Britt Vonk is a Beijing 2008 Olympian with more than 200 appearances in the Dutch uniform, who will be playing this year her sixth World Cup. The 32-year-old infielder made her debut in the Netherlands National Team in 2008, and was the youngest player in the Beijing Olympics roster at 17 years old. During the 2018 Women’s Softball World Cup she posted incredible numbers, with a .455 batting average and three homers (tying for fourth place in the tournament), with seven RBIs. She led the tournament with six stolen bases and was third in slugging with .955. As the lead-off hitter, she led the Europe / Asia Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier with an amazing .700 batting average and four stolen bases. She helped the Netherlands to win the European Championship in 2022 with another impressive performance, hitting .520 with three homers and seven stolen bases.