Record number of teams set for world softball championships

31 countries to be represented at 2016 Women's World Championships in Surrey this summer.

A record number of teams will be stepping on the ball diamond this summer when Surrey hosts the Women’s World Softball Championships.

The World Baseball Softball Federation announced Thursday that 31 teams – a record number – would be competing at the international event, which is set for July 15-24 at Softball City in the South Surrey Athletic Park.

Among the 31 entries taking part are a handful of countries who will be familiar to local softball fans through their past participation at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships – including Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, Chinese-Taipei and Cuba.

As well, a number of countries will be taking part at women’s world championships for the first time – Brazil, Ecuador, India, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia, Switzerland and Uganda.

“We are thrilled to announce the countries scheduled to participate,” said tournament chairman Greg Timm.

“This is just the beginning of many exciting announcements of what’s to come to Surrey this July, as we host this world-class event.”

Japan will enter the tournament as the two-time defending champions, having won in 2014 (Haarlem, Netherlands) and 2012 (Whitehorse).

The U.S. squad will also be among the top contenders, having won nine total women’s world championships; they’ve finished with silver medals in each of the last two tournaments.

Setting a record for participants – and introducing non-traditional softball countries to the sport – has been a goal of the organizing committee since Surrey was awarded the event bid back in 2013.

Timm led a contingent of organizers to the 2014 world championships in the Netherlands, telling Peace Arch News at the time they were there to “develop some relationships” and explain to all countries, not just the traditional softball powers, how they can qualify for the 2016 tournament.

Thirty umpires from 18 countries were also appointed to the 2016 world championships last week.

For more on the event, visit www.surrey2016.com or follow them on Twitter, @Surrey_2016

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