1 Year Ago Today: WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup opens in New Zealand

1 Year Ago Today: WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup opens in New Zealand
The inaugural edition of the WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup opened a year ago at the newly renovated Colquhoun Park in Palmerston North, New Zealand. This event turned out to be the only WBSC international event in 2020.

On 22 February 2020 at 11 a.m. in Palmerston North, Guatemalan starter Diego Morales pitched a strike to Magnus Kirstein from Denmark, opening the WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup. The WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup 2020 was the first competition in this age bracket, replacing the former Junior Men’s Softball World Championship, for U-19 athletes, and marking the beginning of the new Softball World Cup brand.

Colquhoun Park – the home field of the Manawatu Softball Association – was transformed ahead of the global event, leaving a long lasting legacy for the community, including two world-class fields, a clubhouse, four team locker rooms, two umpire locker rooms, a medical room and a multi-purpose room. Colquhoun Park is now one of the top softball facilities in New Zealand.

After a warm welcome from the Palmerston North community at the city’s main square, an emotional demonstration of the Kiwi hospitality and cultural heritage, the top 12 nations from across the globe started to play For the Title of World Champion. Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Singapore and South Africa competed in Group A, while Denmark, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand (host) and USA clashed in Group B.

A brand new trophy and medals were unveiled for the rebranded event. The world championship trophy boasts a modern shape that celebrates and symbolises youth and the glowing future of the sport. Both the trophy and the medals have a softball as their centerpiece.

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On day 1, Singapore surprised fans by defeating world No. 2 Argentina by a score of 8-3. Singapore had only won one game in their previous two appearances (in 2012 and 2014) in this age group, heading into the game with a 1 and 15 win-loss record.

World No. 1 Japan made a statement in their tournament opener against host New Zealand with a 12-1, four-inning win. The Japanese squad would go undefeated in the tournament to win their third junior world title in history.

Days after the conclusion of this event, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation or postponement of the rest of the WBSC tournaments in 2020, including baseball’s and softball’s historic Olympic return at Tokyo 2020.

U-18 Men's Softball World Cup