U.S. women seeded no. 1 in World Championships

The 2018 World Softball Championships are set to start at four different stadiums in Japan with competition from 2-12 August. The 16 teams will play in two groups (world rankings in parentheses):

Group A:

United States (1), Chinese Taipei (5), Puerto Rico (6), Mexico (7), Netherlands (8), New Zealand (11), Philippines (15), South Africa (35)

Group B:

Japan (2), Canada (3), Australia (4), Italy (9), China (12), Great Britain (14), Venezuela (17), Botswana (33).

Each group will play a round-robin schedule through the 8th, with playoffs starting on the 10th. The top four teams in each group will play in the Championship bracket and the last four teams in the Consolation bracket. Games will be played in Chiba, Narita, Narashino and Ichihara.

Semifinals will be held on the 11th and the medal games on 12 August. Look for results here.

The first World Championships was 1965 and was won by hosts Australia. Since then, the U.S. has won 10 times in the 14 tournaments since, including seven in a row from 1986-2010. It’s now held every two years and Japan and the U.S. have played in six straight finals, with the Americans winning in 2002-06-10-16 and the Japanese taking the title in 2012-14.

The U.S. has won a medal in 14 of the 15 events, missing only in 1982 (10-4-0); Japan has won 10 medals (3-5-2) and Australia, eight (1-1-6).

The U.S. and Japan faced off in the USA International Cup in Irvine, California in earlier this month, with the U.S. World Championships team winning the tournament with a 10-5 victory over Japan in the final on 15 July. The U.S. batting stars included Valerie Arioto, who was 3-for-3 with three home runs, five runs batted in and four runs scored, and Michelle Moultrie (2-3) with a home run and two RBIs.