Fastpitch Softball Tournaments
The fastpitch softball tournaments are organized each year by the governing bodies of softball. The International Softball Federation is the international governing body and the responsible for the organization of the world championships, which utilizes a page playoff system (including the tourneys related to fastpitch). The world championship is held every four years; the last tournament was XI Women’s World Championship in August-September 2006. Apart from the world championships, the ISF holds several World Cups, every four years. Currently, Australia is the Men’s World Champion since the Australians won their title in 2009 which was held until then by New Zealand.
Australia also won the Junior Men’s World Championship for four times in a row and they are currently champions in the junior level as well. The United States female team has won three of the last four Olympic tournaments, as well as the past six World Championships. The Junior Women’s Champion is the team from the United States at this point. The first appearance of the women’s fastpitch softball at the Olympics was in 1996. The Amateur Softball Association or ASA is the governing body of softball in the United States and it held its first fastpitch softball tournament in 1933, in Chicago. Currently, ASA runs the World Cup of Softball since 2005. It also runs competitions in every state and it has a membership of over 230.000 teams and more than 3 million players.
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Women’s College World Series and the Big 12 Conference softball championship are hosted by the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The NCAA Division I softball championship tournament takes place every year in June with the participation of 64 college softball teams from the United States. This tournament culminates in the Women’s College World Series which is played in Oklahoma City. This is the final stage of the NCAA Women’s Softball tournament for college softball in the United States. The tournament is played in the format of two four-team double elimination brackets and the winners of each bracket competes in a best-of-three title game series to determine the champion. This tournament is held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
Fastpitch softball was introduced in the Olympic Games in 1996 (women only). In four Olympic Games, since 1996 until 2008, the United States won three gold medals and a silver one. Japan won one gold medal, a silver one and a bronze one. In the top four nations at the Olympics, the United States are, by far, the most successful with a total of four medals, followed by Japan (winning three medals), Australia (also four medals out of which three were bronze and one silver) and China with one silver medal. However, the International Olympic Committee decided that softball and baseball should not be included in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Fastpitch softball tournaments are organized all over the world, especially in the United States, where this sport is quite popular, and they provide with the opportunity to compete at the highest level players can attain.