The group stage of the WBSC Women’s World Cup will wrap up competition with Group C in Italy this week. It won’t lack Arizona softball influence with three coaches and possibly two former players on rosters.
Current Arizona pitching coach Christian Conrad has been serving as an assistant coach for the Canadian team for the past few weeks. Last week, the side went 6-4 in the warmup event at the Canada Cup. They defeated Australia, Greece, Italy, Mexico (twice), and Israel. The victory over Israel came by way of a no-hitter. The Canadians lost to Japan, Italy, and TC Colorado (twice).
The Canada Cup also included the team from Italy that will host Group C. That team’s coaching staff includes former Arizona head coach Mike Candrea in an advisory role. It also includes former Arizona star Nancy Evans, who was on Candrea’s staff for two years as a volunteer assistant before serving six years as a full-time assistant coach for the Wildcats. Evans was one of the greatest pitchers in Arizona history and one of its most accomplished assistant coaches, winning three national titles as a player and three more as a coach. This is her second year as Italy’s pitching coach.
The roster for the Italian team also features a former Wildcat. Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, who transferred to Tennessee after the 2022 season, will once again represent Italy. She also represented that country in the Tokyo Olympics that were held in 2021.
Venezuela will compete in Group C along with the host team, Canada, Japan, Philippines, and New Zealand. Former UA pitcher Michelle Floyd has pitched for the Venezuelan team since before the Tokyo Olympics and helped them qualify for this event last year. Venezuela has yet to release its roster for the World Cup group stage, though, so Floyd’s status for the event is still officially up in the air.
Now that’s it’s sunk in, this team did it. This team qualified for the Central American Games, Pan American Games, and the World Cup. So proud of what we did and how we competed down in Guatemala. The Pan Am Championships was one for the books. #VamosVenezuela #SoftballPanAm pic.twitter.com/901r0gq42k— Michelle Floyd (@MichelleFloyd13) November 24, 2022
The top two finishers in each group will advance to next year’s championship stage. There will also be two wildcard teams who advance out of the group stage. As the host, Italy takes one of the wildcard spots.
Team USA and Australia have advanced out of Group A by grabbing the top two spots. Group B will start play on July 18 to determine its two qualifiers. The championship phase will run from July 15-21 of 2024.
While Canada (No. 5) and Japan (No. 2) are currently the two highest-ranked teams in the group, Italy defeated Canada to take the bronze medal in the Canada Cup last week. The Italian side is ranked eighth in the world. The other teams are ranked No. 22 (Venezuela), No. 26 (Philippines), and No. 29 (New Zealand).
The event will be streamed on GameTime. Viewers can stream all WBSC events for $59.99, the entire World Cup group stage event for $29.99, or pay $12.99 to watch individual groups. With Group A already completed, the $29.99 package becomes less of a deal.