It's been 55 years since first-ever Women’s Softball World Championship in 1965

It's been 55 years since first-ever Women’s Softball World Championship in 1965
The flagship international softball tournament was played for the first time in 1965 in Melbourne, Australia. With the launch of the global softball platform, the sport began its expansion on the international sports scene.

The WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, now known as the Women's Softball World Cup, was first played in 1965 in Melbourne, Australia, with five nations competing for the world title. The event represented the first softball world championship in any category, pre-dating the first Men’s Softball World Cup in 1966.

The genesis of the Women’s Softball World Championship dates back to August 1962, when three members of the Australian Women’s Softball Council—Esther Deason, Merle Short, and Marjorie Dwyer— attended the ASA Women’s Major Fastpitch National Championship in Stratford, Connecticut. Nineteen teams were participating, including squads from Canada and Japan. 

The trio met with Don Porter, the executive director of the ASA at the time, and Jiro Iwano, the head of the Japanese delegation. They discussed the possibility of holding an international tournament with each country sending a team. Three years after that meeting, the first official softball world championship was played.

USA, Japan, New Zealand and New Guinea joined host Australia to play For the Title of World Champion for the first time, on a diamond that was carved out of a cricket pitch.

In one of the tightest battles in international softball history, the Australians emerged with a 1-0 triumph over USA to claim the first world title in the sport. After five scoreless innings, Australia’s Elinor McKenzie was on second after a base hit off Donna LoPiano. Facing Aussie captain Gladys Phillips, LoPiano made a wild pitch, and McKenzie moved to third and when the catcher Laura Malesh had trouble retrieving the ball from the safety net behind the plate, McKenzie dashed for home, slid past LoPiano who was covering the plate and scored the only run of the game.

Japan grabbed the bronze medal, while New Zealand finished in fourth place. Papua New Guinea placed fifth, with no wins in eight games.

After the inaugural edition, women’s national softball teams have played a total 16 World Championships in 10 host-countries. USA has dominated the event with 11 world championships and four silver medals, followed by Japan (3 golds, 6 silvers and 2 bronzes), Australia (1 world title, 1 silver medal, 6 bronzes) and New Zealand (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals). The full medal table is as follows:

New Zealand1124
Chinese Taipei-112

The second edition of the Women’s Softball World Championship was played in 1970 in Osaka, Japan, with 9 participating nations from four continents: Africa, Americas, Asia and Oceania. After that, the flagship event was played every four years until 2010, when it became a biennial event aiming to help fill the absence of the Olympic Games. In 2018 the WBSC rebranded the original Softball World Championships across all categories - the men's, women's, junior men's and junior women's, and renamed them the WBSC Softball World Cups.

Initially scheduled for 2021, the first edition of the WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup was postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic and will be played in 2023.