USA softball takes on Team Japan in All-Star Series
The GIST: While the USWNT battles Down Under this weekend, another’s taking the dirt about 5K miles directly north. The No. 1 USA Softball WNT — with an entire roster of current NCAA athletes — will compete in the Japan All-Star Series this weekend. Hey Google, what’s LFG in Japanese?
The dynastic history: Save pandemic years, the three-game series against host No. 2 Japan has been an annual party since 2016. But that’s just the tip of the softball dynasty iceberg between these two national teams, who’ve traded the world Nos. 1 and 2 spots since the rankings began in 2016.
- Japan has the recent Olympic edge, earning gold to the U.S.’s silver in both the 2008 Beijing and 2020 Tokyo Games (the last two times softball was played in the Olympics). As for World Cup play, Japan has four gold medals compared to the U.S.’s nine.
The NCAA stars: Team USA takes a unique approach to the Japan All-Star Series. Rather than rostering the nation’s best, the red, white, and blue instead sends its top up-and-comers to get a taste of international spice and play in front of thousands of fans. That means each of the 16 athletes taking the field this weekend are current NCAAers.
- Helmed by Clemson head coach John Rittman, this squad boasts 2023 collegiate Player of the Year, Clemson’s redshirt senior Valerie Cagle, and Freshman of the Year, Stanford’s Nijaree Canady, in the circle.
- Twelve Division I teams and five conferences make up this Team USA roster, but reigning national champ Oklahoma has the most players with three — including fifth-year Sooner Kinzie Hansen, who’ll hold it down behind the dish.
When to watch: Thanks to the soccer girlies, the late night and early morning starts will fit right into your current sleep schedule: Game 1 started today at 6 a.m. ET and will likely be wrapped by the time you’re reading this, but grab a Saturday night java for Sunday’s 1 a.m. ET Game 2 before Monday’s potential 6 a.m. ET rubber match. Batter up!