2019: U-19 Softball World Cup - USA first to three-peat as U-19 world champs

2019: U-19 Softball World Cup - USA first to three-peat as U-19 world champs
30/12/2019
The tournament in Irvine was the first-ever softball world cup, replacing the previous world championships. It was also the last U-19 softball World Cup. Starting in 2020, this tournament will be a U-18 World Cup, replacing the previous age bracket.

The final of the U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup in Irvine, California was one for the ages and pinch hitter Francesca Hammoude got the Oscar for best performance in a leading role, taking hosts USA to a seventh title and a first-ever three-peat.

Down 3-0 against arch rivals Japan in the bottom of the first extra inning, the 19 year-old from Oakland, California, stepped up to the plate and stepped up in the tournament, hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the first extra inning having had only nine at-bats previously in the whole tournament. It was then left to Jasmine Freed to bat in Charla Echols for the incredible come-from-behind victory.


2019 Series: Year in Review
U-19 Softball World Cup - USA first to three-peat as U-19 world champs
U-18 Baseball World Cup - Epic Lo performance helps Chinese Taipei end USA dominance
U-12 Softball Mixed World Cup - WBSC makes huge step on gender equality with first-ever mixed event
U-12 Baseball World Cup - Chen hits Chinese Taipei home in new home for U-12 baseball
Softball Olympic Qualifiers - Mexico in Olympics for first time as softball field complete
Baseball Olympic Qualifiers - Israel's historic first time in Olympic baseball tournament
Development - Africa Dev Programme & Women’s Baseball lead impressive year of growth
Premier12 - The “biggest int’l baseball event in recent history”
WBSC - Huge year sets up foundation for bright future
Baseball5 - Continues to spread like "wildfire"
Men’s Softball World Championship - Argentina clinch historic title as Europe hosts for first time
Chinese Taipei wins U-12, U-18 Baseball World Cups, Asian Championship, Fed of the Year
President Fraccari: “2019 - The biggest year in int’l baseball, softball history”


The 4-3 win was celebrated throughout the softball and sporting community around the world, recognising the quality of the two most successful softball nations in the world, who are expected to be the favourites to contest the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games title next year.

USA and Japan have played 11 U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup finals, including the last 10 in a row, and their seven titles, leads Japan with five and China with one. USA became the first nation to win three consecutive titles in the youth women’s softball category, claiming their fifth title in the past six editions.

The final was a perfect illustration of the quality of international women's softball, featuring an intense duel over the first seven innings between the top pitchers of the tournament - Japan’s left hander Miu Goto, who relied on off-speed trickery, and USA right hander Megan Faraimo, who looked overpowering for most of the day.

In the top of the eighth Japan scored three runs off Faraimo, and it looked like it was the game for them. However, in the bottom of the first extra inning, Hammoude came up on plate for her star performance. With two runners on and a one-ball count, the right hander looked at a perfect change up by Goto before standing back on the second change up she saw, to hammer it well beyond the left-field wall to tie the game.

“With Godin coming up, I knew I had to get ready. We needed more a big hit than a slap at that time,” said Hammoude after the game.“I tried to stay as calm as possible. We had scouted Japan and we had practised real hard on hitting the changeup. Right now, it feels real good.”

With the game tied, Echols made it to the box with two outs, the bases empty and no one on. She looked at two balls, then she slammed the third pitch off the wall in centre field for a stand-up triple despite a brave attempt by Yui Nakagawa. Jasmine Freed went down 1-2 in the count, then hit a slow roller. Shortstop Ako Imamura charged as hard as possible, but couldn’t get to the ball. Echols rushed home to score the World Championship run.

USA head coach Heather Tarr praised her players: “We are tough and resilient. We knew it was tough to overcome a three-run deficit against a pitcher who hadn’t allowed an earned run in the tournament, but we still knew we could do.”

The tournament in Irvine was the first-ever softball world cup, replacing the previous world championships. The new Softball World Cup brand identity and tournament system was approved in 2018 by the WBSC Softball Executive Board. The WBSC unveiled a new logo for the U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup, as a part of a “unified” look and feel of all softball events logos, and also presented the new trophy for the youth World Cup.

It was also the last U-19 softball World Cup. Starting in 2020, this tournament will be a U-18 World Cup, replacing the previous age bracket.

The U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup was also played under a new competition format. The biggest international youth softball tournament showcased 62 games across eight days of global competition. The 16 participating nations were drawn into four groups:

U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup groups

 

After the three-day, 24-game Opening Round the top two teams of each group advanced to the Super Round, while the bottom two teams played the Placement Round. USA, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Puerto Rico, China, Canada and Chinese Taipei qualified for the Super Round. The top two teams in the standings after the Super Round, USA and Japan, played the final, while in the bronze medal game, Canada defeated Australia, 5-4, and earned their first-ever medal in the youth women’s softball global competition.

Canada had never earned a medal at the Junior or U-19 women’s softball world level. After taking an early lead, Canada stopped Australia’s comeback attempt with hard-throwing reliever Madelyn Hickingbottom.

All 62 games of the WBSC U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup were live-streamed globally, free-of-charge. The WBSC partnered with Eleven Sports to broadcast the event in Italy and Taiwan. Fans in Latin America enjoyed the broadcast through the digital platform AYM Sports, with commentary in Spanish. For the rest of the world, all 62 games were available on the WBSC OTT platform, Game Time.

The next edition of the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup will be held in Lima, Peru, from 21-30 August.