Women’s National Team looks to defend Gold Medal and qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; No. 1 USA holds training in Iwakuni

July 31, 2018, 1:41 a.m. (ET)

Iwakuni, Japan – Coming off their most recent win at the inaugural USA Softball International Cup, the USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) have continued to make final preparations for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Championship set to take place August 2-12 in Chiba, Japan. Thanks to the hospitality and efforts made by the City of Iwakuni and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, the Red White and Blue have trained and will now take advantage of the opportunity to play the Toyota Red Terriers, a Japan professional softball team, for an exhibition doubleheader set to start tonight at 5:30 p.m. JST.

“We are training to prepare ourselves for tomorrow,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen. “Whatever tomorrow is, whether it’s another training session or a competition, we are just concerning ourselves about us. We have 17 players from the United States that represent all the diverse nature of America. These 17 make me proud everyday to wear USA across the chest. I hope all that follow the games and those that follow USA athletes get behind these 17 and support them in their short and long term objectives.”

Following tonight's doubleheader, Team USA will travel to Chiba, Japan where they will join the 15 other participating countries for the Opening Ceremony, set for August 2 at 6:30 p.m. JST.

Team USA will look to defend their Gold Medal finish at the 2016 World Championship in Surrey, B.C., Canada. The WNT opens the WBSC World Championship against Mexico on August 3 at 12:30 p.m. JST (August 2 at 10:30 p.m. CT). The Red, White and Blue will also play Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Puerto Rico and South Africa as part of preliminary round-robin action before heading into the playoff rounds.

The softball flagship competition will feature 73 games across 10 days of competition. The top four finishers from each group will advance to the double page playoff round, while nations not advancing will compete in the placement round. The World Championship finale will take center stage on August 12 at 7 pm JST following the bronze medal match at 2 p.m. JST. The top nation will claim the first of five available softball spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with Japan qualifying automatically as the host country.

Athletes apart of the 2018 USA Softball World Championship roster include Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), Ali Aguilar (Orangevale, Calif.), Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.), Kelly Barnhill (Marietta, Ga.), Kasey Cooper (Dothan, Ala.), Taylor Edwards (Murrieta, Calif.), Rachel Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.), Sahvanna Jaquish (Highland, Calif.), Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.), Kirsti Merritt (Lake Penasoffkee, Fla.), Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.), Danielle O’Toole (Upland, Calif.), Janie Reed (Placentia, Calif.), Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.), Delaney Spaulding (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.).

Group A includes No. 1 United States, No. 5 Chinese Taipei, No. 6 Puerto Rico, No. 7 Mexico, No. 8 Netherlands, No. 11 New Zealand, No. 15 Philippines and No. 35 South Africa, while Group B includes No. 2 Japan, No. 3 Canada, No. 4 Australia, No. 9 Italy, No. 12 China, No. 14 Great Britain, No. 17 Venezuela and No. 33 Botswana.

“The Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba will be an exciting and challenging 73-game top-tier global competition,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari in a release by the WBSC. “The stakes will be extremely high with the tournament awarding one nation a ticket to be part of softball’s historic return at the Tokyo 2020 Games — this is where softball’s Road to Tokyo 2020 begins."

ROAD TO TOKYO 2020

The first opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be at the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship. The first place finisher in Chiba will be awarded direct entry into Tokyo 2020 without having to pass through qualifiers. Should Japan win the World Championship, the second-place finisher would be granted the Olympic spot.

Click here for more information about Olympic qualifiers announced by the WBSC

Fans across the globe will have the opportunity to watch each and every pitch of Team USA’s games via live streaming through the WBSC and their partners as announced earlier by the WBSC. A ticket link can be found on the World Championship event page.

About USA Softball
USA Softball is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 69 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 150,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2 million.  USA Softball is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch.  USA Softball annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships.  The USA Softball umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best trained umpires in the game. 

As the NGB for the sport of softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USA Softball, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.

About the World Baseball Softball Confederation
Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland -- the Olympic Capital -- the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the world governing body for baseball and softball. WBSC has 202 National Federation and Associate Members in 143 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania, which represent a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes and attracts approximately 150 million fans to stadiums worldwide annually. 

The WBSC governs all international competitions involving official National Teams. The WBSC oversees the Softball World Championships (Men, Women, U-19 Men, and U-19 Women), Premier12, World Baseball Classic, and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23 and Women's).

For more information, visit: www.wbsc.org.