The road for Team Italy to reach the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo officially begins August 2, 2018 with the first pitch of the WBSC Women's Softball Championship at 7 am (EDT) live and direct from NASPA Stadium in Narita City, Japan. Team Italy manager Enrico Obletter along with coaches Federico Pizzolini and Lisa Birocci-Banse have worked diligently to prepare their promising Azzurre squad for the tournament opener against the Japanese. With Japan being guaranteed a spot in 2020 for hosting the Olympic games, 15 other countries will battle during the 10-day competition to become the next softball nation to qualify for the 2020 Olympics by winning the 2018 WBSC Women's Softball Championship.
In the 16-year history of the international tourney, only four nations have the won the Women's Softball World Championship with defending champions USA leading all countries by capturing 10 world titles to date. Powerhouse Japan has been dominant in recent years, having won two of the last three competitions, while Australia and New Zealand lay claim to one title each.
The 2018 WBSC Women's Softball Championship has been broken into two groups. Group A consists of USA (ranked #1), Chinese Taipei (ranked #5), Puerto Rico (ranked #6), Mexico (ranked #7), the Netherlands (ranked #8), New Zealand (ranked #11), the Philippines (ranked #15), and South Africa (ranked #35). Group B brings together Japan (ranked #2), Canada (ranked #3), Australia (ranked #4), Italy (ranked #9), China (ranked #12), Great Britain (ranked #14), Venezuela (ranked #17), and Botswana (ranked #33).
The top four finishers of the round-robin action from each group will advance to the playoffs while the remaining countries will compete in the placement round. After the opening contest against Japan on August 2, Team Italy returns for two more games at NASPA Stadium in Narita City against Australia and Canada on August 4. The Azzure women move on to Zett.A. Ball Park in Ichihara City to play Botswana on August 5 and Great Britain on August 6. The Italians then travel to Akitsu Stadium in Narashino City for games against Venezuela on August 7 and China on August 8 to conclude Group B play. With a strong showing in the 2018 WBSC Women's Softball Championship, Team Italy will qualify for the playoffs from August 9-12, 2018 with the ultimate goal of gaining entry to the 2020 Olympics. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti