BASEBALL: Japan and U.S. on collision course in women’s World Champs?

The recent women’s World Softball Championships ended in a classic showdown between Japan and the United States – in Japan – with the U.S. winning the title in extra innings. That match-up could be repeated at the women’s Baseball Worlds – in Viera, Florida (USA) – as both are moving toward the playoff round:

∙ The U.S. is leading Group A with a 4-1 record, dispatching Puerto Rico (14-0), the Netherlands (18-0), Korea (11-1), Venezuela (3-1), but losing to Chinese Taipei (4-3). Both Puerto Rico and Chinese Taipei have rescheduled games on Monday, so the U.S. could win the group, but will finish no lower then second.

∙ Japan, looking for its sixth straight world championship, won Group B with a 5-0 record. They defeated the Dominican Republic (8-0), Hong Kong (23-0), Canada (2-1 after a long weather delay), Cuba (4-1) and Australia (5-1).

Because of weather delays, round-robin play in the groups will finish on the 27th; the top three teams in each group will play in a “Super Round” with the top four playing in the Championship and Bronze Medal games on 31 August.

The event is being held in the U.S. for the first time; the American team is the only other to win the World Cup, taking the title in the first two editions in 2004 and 2006.

Japan won the World Cup in 2008-10-12-14-16, beating the United States twice, Canada twice and Australia once. The Japanese stomped Canada, 10-0, to win in 2016 with Venezuela third and Chinese Taipei fourth.

Look for results here.