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Five For Friday: Softball World Championships

By Chrös McDougall | Aug. 03, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Monica Abbott pitches at the USA Softball International Cup on July 13, 2018 in Irvine, Calif.


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As if a world title wasn’t enough, the USA Softball Women’s National Team is also seeking an automatic Olympic berth this week in Chiba, Japan.

Team USA opened the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship against Mexico on Friday, and continues with group-play games against Chinese Taipei on Saturday and the Netherlands Sunday. Group play continues with games against the Philippines on Monday, South Africa on Tuesday and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, with the medal round set for Aug. 12.

The winner in Chiba will earn an automatic berth into the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo, though Japan already has an Olympic berth as hosts, so if Japan wins then the second-place team would take the Olympic berth.

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Team USA is the defending world champion, having won in 2016 in Canada. The Americans also enter the tournament as the top-ranked team. Hosts Japan come into the tournament ranked second. Japan won the 2008 Olympic gold medal, plus the 2012 and ’14 world titles.

Softball was dropped from the Olympic program following the 2008 Games in Beijing but will be contested again in 2020 in Tokyo. Pitcher Monica Abbott was the youngest player on that 2008 U.S. team, and she’s Team USA’s most veteran player in Chiba. She’s joined on Team USA by veteran infielder Valerie Arioto and outfielder Michelle Moultrie.

Team USA is coming off a win last month at the USA Softball International Cup, where the U.S. team beat Japan in the final.

Chrös McDougall is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.