The Aussie Spirit have had a great preparation as they head into their most important tournament in several years.
In the days leading up to the XVI Women’s Softball World Championship, which begins in Chiba tomorrow, the Spirit have been in the Japanese city of Ota fine-tuning their preparation.
Having come off a season in the National Pro Fastpitch league in the US, the Spirit have had plenty of game time in the past two months. And they have added to that under Japanese conditions with help from the organisers in Ota City.
Aussie Spirit Head Coach Fabian Barlow says the preparation the Spirit have had in Ota City has been a huge help as they get ready for the World Championship, which is also a potential qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The support we have received from the Ota City Mayor and the city as a whole has been extremely generous,” Barlow says.
“Their training and playing facilities are world class and the effort that has gone into making us feel welcome and allow us to just concentrate on our World Championship preparations has been terrific.”
The Spirit also benefited by playing games against high-quality opposition.
“We managed to get through 10 games against pro league teams while also manipulating some situations to place more pressure on our defence such as placing runners on base to start an inning,” Barlow says.
“We are very thankful to the pro league teams who allowed these scenarios to be created as they are currently on a break from their season and I’m sure had goals of their own they needed to achieve in the games.”
Although the players had been through a US summer, they needed to acclimatise to Japanese conditions before heading to Chiba.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Ota City and feel comfortable we have used our time here wisely,” Barlow says.
“It’s been extremely hot and humid at times and playing double-headers or 10-inning games has been physically and mentally challenging.
“We hope that will hold us up well in Chiba where we anticipate very similar conditions and challenges. We have a couple of trainings to touch up on things and are looking forward to our opening game.”
The World Championship begins in Chiba tomorrow. The Aussie Spirit’s first game is against Venezuela on Friday at 11am AEST.
All games will be streamed live on the WBSC YouTube channel.
Aussie Spirit World Championship schedule:
Friday 10am (11am AEST): Australia vs Venezuela
Friday 3.30pm (4.30pm AEST): Australia vs China
Saturday 10am (11am AEST): Australia vs Italy
Sunday 2.30pm (3.30pm AEST): Australia vs Canada
Monday 10am: (11am AEST): Australia vs Botswana
Tuesday 6pm (7pm AEST): Australia vs Great Britain
Wednesday 7pm (8pm AEST): Australia vs Japan
Friday August 10-Sunday August 12: Playoffs