WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup - Group A Preview: Australia face stern challenge as world title defence starts in Hermosillo
11/06/2024 4 Minute Read

WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup - Group A Preview: Australia face stern challenge as world title defence starts in Hermosillo

With the top two teams advancing to next year's Finals, the competition is expected to be tight with three of the participating teams in Group A having previously medalled. Australia hold two world titles, one silver medal and a pair of bronzes; while Mexico and Venezuela have both claimed one silver and one bronze medal.

The XVIII Men's Softball World Cup is set to open on Wednesday, with six of the top-15 teams in the world battling in Group A for the two available spots in next year's Finals. Australia will start their World Title defence in Hermosillo, facing off against Czechia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Philippines and Venezuela.

Three of the participating teams in Group A have medalled in the tournament before. Australia hold two world titles, one silver medal and a pair of bronzes while Mexico and Venezuela both have one silver and one bronze medal.


  • MSWC Appearances: 11
  • Highest finish: World Champion (2009, 2022)
  • 2022 finish: World Champion
  • World Ranking: No. 2

Australia are the defending world champions, after winning their second World Title in 2022. The team features 10 of the original 2022 World Cup winning team, including Jack Besgrove, the left-handed pitcher that carried Australia to the title in Auckland. They look like the team to beat in Group A

Scott Sunley will make his debut as head coach of the Aussie Steelers. "If we continue to work hard, make smart decisions, and understand that you can always learn from the game then we can continue the success that has been built over the past few years," said Sunley. "I’m extremely excited for what’s to come in 2024 and beyond.” 

The Aussies won their first World Title in 2009 in Saskatoon, Canada with a historic performance by Adam Folkard, who tossed a no-hit no-run in the final. Folkard also won the title in 2022.


  • MSWC Appearances: 10
  • Highest finish: 6th (2000)
  • 2022 finish: 9th
  • World Ranking: No. 6

The European champions aim to return to the top-eight of the World Cup after five years. The last time they did it was in 2019 as the home team in Prague. To do that, head coach Jaroslav Korcak trusts in their top-two pitchers Michal Holobradek and Jakub Osicka; two arms with a dominant presence in the circle and plenty of international experience.

A total of 10 players in the roster participated in the 2022 Men's Softball World Cup, where Czechia couldn't qualify for the playoffs and finished in ninth place with an even 4-4 record.

"I believe we have a well-prepared team," added Korcak. "We have quality players with international experience, either from the national team or playing in USA and Canada, and we believe that we will advance to the World Cup Finals."

Dominican Republic

  • MSWC Appearances: 6
  • Highest finish: 5th (2015, 1984)
  • 2022 finish: Did not participate
  • World Ranking: No. 14

Dominican Republic is back in the World Cup after seven years, marking their successful return to the international stage. They earned the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023, and a year after they won the bronze medal at the Pan American Championship in April. In those tournaments, the Dominicans split their games with Mexico and Venezuela, going 1-1 against each of them. 

Part of this success is because of Yan Carlos Gonzalez, the veteran right-handed pitcher that led the team in those two competitions. Gonzalez had a terrific tournament at this year's Pan American Championship in Venezuela, leading his team to a bronze medal and being the most decisive player in the roster. He tossed 23.3 innings, striking out 43 and posting a 1.48 ERA with a 4-0 record. 

Last year, he also led the Dominican Republic to a gold medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023 with a dominant performance, leading the field in wins (4), ERA (0.94), inning pitched (22.1) and strikeouts (43). 


  • MSWC Appearances: 13
  • Highest finish: Silver medal (1966)
  • 2022 finish:  Did not participate
  • World Ranking: No. 9 

The pitching staff is composed of three young arms, making their debut in a senior World Cup: Jose and Jesus Valdez, the brothers who led the Mexican team to a fourth place in the U-23 Men's Softball World Cup last year, and Carlos Parra, born in Hermosillo, who helped his country to win a silver medal in last year's U-18 Men's Softball World Cup. The success of the Mexican team in the tournament will depend on their performance.

The core of the team is a veteran group of players, led by captain Ruben Delgadillo and slugger Edgar Lopez, with a long and successful career in the international stage, with the addition of some rising stars like catcher Christian del Valle and shortstop David Diaz (stars from last year's U-18 Men's Softball World Cup team); and Diaz, Abelardo Peñuelas and Jordan Solorio from the U-23 team. 

Mexico, who won a silver medal in their last official appearance at the Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023, hold two medals in the Men's Softball World Cup from the first two editions of the tournament in 1966 (silver) and 1968 (bronze). 


  • MSWC Appearances: 11
  • Highest finish: 4th (1968)
  • 2022 finish: 10th
  • World Ranking: No. 15

A young Philippines team, with only three players in their 30s, will arrive in Hermosillo as the lowest ranked team in Group A. However, 10 players in the roster have experience in the tournament, as they participated in the 2022 World Cup. Denmark Bathan, Reagan Parco and Gerone Riparip played in Prague 2019 as well.

The Asian team has finished in the top-10 in eight of their 11 participations, including a 10th place in the last World Cup in 2022. However, the Philippines haven't finished in the top-eight since 1992, when they hosted the event in Manila. They have participated in eight of the last nine World Cups. 

Julius Dela Cruz seems to be the Philippines' main arm after being the best pitcher of the team in the Men's Softball Asia Cup, tossing 15.2 scoreless innings with 19 strikeouts. 


  • MSWC Appearances: 10
  • Highest finish: Silver medal (2013)
  • 2022 finish: 6th
  • World Ranking: No. 5

Venezuela is a veteran team, with 12 players in their 30s, and eight of them over 34. Angel Adames is the youngest player in the team at 22. 

Venezuela's best performance in a World Cup has been Auckland 2013, when the South American nation lost to New Zealand in the final, 4-1. Two players from that historic team, softball legends Rafael Flores and Erik Urbaneja, will represent Venezuela in Hermosillo. Flores will play his seventh World Cup (2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022), while Urbaneja will make his eighth appearance in the greatest international tournament for men's softball. They also won a bronze medal in Saskatoon 2015.

However, the ace of the team is Maiker Pimentel, the 26-year-old flame thrower who played the 2017 and 2019 World Cups, posting a 3.33 career ERA. In April, Pimentel carried Venezuela to a silver-medal finish at the Pan American Championship, earning their ticket to the World Cup. 

MSWC Group A Schedule