22/07/2023 - 26/07/2023

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

Women's Softball World Cup Group C: Japan, Canada and Italy expected to lead the way

Women's Softball World Cup Group C: Japan, Canada and Italy expected to lead the way
20/07/2023
The three teams warmed up during the Canada Cup. Japan's pitching (Miu Goto pitched during the World Games 2022) looked too strong for everybody. Venezuela, New Zealand and Philippines are willing to show they belong to the world stage.

The third and final group of the XVII Women's Softball World Cup first stage is scheduled from Saturday, 22 July, to Wednesday, 26 July, in Buttrio and Castions di Strada, near Udine in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region in Northeastern Italy.

The reigning Olympic champions and world No. 2 Japan will open at 14:00 against No. 29 New Zealand. Two more games are scheduled on Day 1.

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Japan is the team to beat. After the Olympic gold medal, the roster underwent a generational renovation, but Japan never stopped performing at a world-class level. The face of the team is 22-year-old left-handed pitcher Miu Goto.

Japan's pitchers outplayed the opponents during the Canada Cup, never allowing more than one run. During the tournament, Japan outscored both Canada and Italy.

World No. 5 Canada won a historic bronze medal at the 2020 Games. Since then, they lost top pitchers Danielle Lawrie and Jenna Caira. Kaleigh Rafter, their starting catcher in the Olympics, transitioned from player to head coach. The 36-year-old Olympian can count on a roster including nine players who competed in the 2022 World Games

Canada finished sixth, ahead of No. 8 Italy.

"We have a better team this year," said manager Federico Pizzolini after a warmup game between Italy and the University of Alabama.

Italy added to the 2022 World Games roster some power with star catcher Erika Piancastelli, first baseman McKenzie Barbara and shortstop Marta Gasparotto.

Italy showed during the Canada Cup they could score runs. Their pitching and defence didn't look as solid.

"I think we have a chance," added Pizzolini. "We beat Canada in the playoffs, and I have some regrets about losing the first game."

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Italy, as the organizer of the World Championship stage in 2024, wouldn't need to qualify.

"You need to play to win," added Pizzolini, who wouldn't comment on the safety net represented by the Wild Card.

No. 22 Venezuela finished 12th in the 2018 World Cup. Beijing 2008 veteran Yuruby Alicart came out of retirement to lead Venezuela to fifth place in the Pan American Championship. Venezuela lost the bronze-medal game against Mexico in the Central American and Caribbean Games.

No. 26 Philippines finished 14th in the 2018 World Cup. They had failed to qualify from 1998 to 2016, and after that, their women's softball programme resurged. The Philippines advanced to the Super Round of the WBSC Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifier 2019 and finished fourth in the Women's Softball Asia Cup.

No. 29 New Zealand has 10 players making their World Cup debut. Head coach and three-time men's softball World Champion Donny Hale can count on veterans Lara Andrews, Rebecca Bromhead, Katrina Nukunuku and Mikayla Werahiko.