Canada and New Zealand front runners in the quest for Gold at the Men’s Softball World Championship

Written by Bob on July 15th, 2017

Josh Pettit has a 4-0 record and is a prime reason New Zealand is making a strong run at winning the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Men’s Softball World Championship. Courtesy Photo

WHITEHORSE, YK, Canada – Where once there were sixteen of the world’s finest fastpitch teams battling for gold at the Men’s Softball World Championship, we are now down to six.

And these six – their rosters filled with the finest hurlers and batsmen worldwide – are indeed the best of the sixteen.

As the tournament heads into the final two days of championship play, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Japan, Australia and the United States remain in contention for the most treasured of all mens’ fastpitch softball titles: World Champion.

My pick for Gold? Canada.

The defending 2015 world champions are playing an incredibly high-caliber fastpitch.

The Canadians rode through Pool A at 7-0, and in their opening playoff game Friday, shutout Japan 2-0, to extend their unbeaten streak to 8-0 and remain the only undefeated team in the world championship.

LONG TIME FOES SET FOR BATTLE

But the Canadians are on a collision course Saturday afternoon when they meet a decades long nemesis and world power since the World Championship began in 1966.

For Saturday at 4 p.m. Canada and New Zealand (7-1) meet in a contest with huge ramifications: the winner proceeds directly to Sunday’s Gold Medal game.

While Canada was impressive in shutting out Japan, the Kiwis put a 6-2 hurt on Australia and it’s renowned pitching staff of Adam Folkard and Andrew Kirkpatrick.

A look at the stats finds Canada and New Zealand like twin peas in a pod in the pitching and hitting departments.

TOUGH CHUCKERS

For the Kiwi’s, right-hander Josh Pettit has carried the load. The right-hander is 4-0 with a microscopic 0.32 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 22 innings. And Nikki Hayes has done his part going 2-1.

But the Canadians have a couple aces as well in Sean Cleary and Devon McCullough. Cleary is undefeated at 3-0 in 22 innings with a respectable 1.91 ERA and 32 strikeouts.

McCullough, who by the way was the winning pitcher when Canada defeated New Zealand, 10-5, to win the 2015 world championship, is currently 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 15 strikeouts.

BLISTERING HOT BATS

At the plate once again the two titans are close. Canada has a .333 team batting average and has scored 68 runs, while New Zealand has a slight edge, hitting at a .352 average and plating 79 runs.

Achieving Success against world-class fastpitch pitching is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sports. But these hitters have the keen eye of an eagle, exceptionally quick wrists, and the long ball power of a Babe Ruth.

NEW ZEALAND’S TOP BATSMEN

Thomas Enoka, .400 batting average (10-for-25) and 14 RBI
Campbell Enoka, .611 (11-for-18) and 11 runs
Nathan Nukunuku, .533 (8-for-15), 10 RBI, 2 home runs
Tyron Bartorillo, .375 (6-for-16), 11 RBI, 5 home runs

CANADA’S BIG STICKS

Derek Mayson, .500 (7-for-14), 4 RBI
Mark Johnson, .474 (9-for-19), 10 RBI, 4 home runs
Ryan Boland, .333 (4-for-12), 10 RBI

Any wagering person would be wise to pick either team for the Gold, and I’m betting on Canada.

PRECIOUS MEDALS

Of course, Gold is the goal, but with ball clubs this elite, this talented, there’s no shame in taking home the Silver or Bronze.

My pick for the Silver: New Zealand. The Bronze: The United States.

  • Click on this link to see the Men’s Softball World Champions from 1966 to 2015.
  • Leave a Comment