Six awesome players you need to watch in Round 2 of the Women's Baseball World Cup
In its first week, the Women's Baseball World Cup gave us everything from dingers to extra-inning dramatics to good ol' fashion baseball shenanigans. Dontrelle Willis is into it, and if it's good enough for Dontrelle Willis, it's good enough for us.
If you've missed out on the action so far, don't worry: Round 1 is in the books, but Round 2 kicked off on Tuesday, featuring the top six teams from group play -- the U.S., Japan, Canada, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Chinese Taipei. To help get you prepared, here's one star from each team that you'll want to watch going forward.
USA: Megan Baltzell
The Americans led the tournament with a whopping 49 runs through their first five games. That had a lot to do with Baltzell, the team's left fielder, who hit a blistering 1.077 OPS with four doubles -- and one monster dinger:
Japan: Rina Taniyama
Japan was the only squad to go undefeated in Round 1 -- they outscored their opponents 46 to 3 (!) -- so there are a lot of options here. Luckily, Taniyama's curveball made the choice pretty easy for us:
Japan's ace dominated the Dominican Republic, striking out nine over six shutout innings, then threw two more hitless frames to pick up the save against Cuba.
Canada: Kelsey Lalor
Team Canada is driven by its offense -- only two players aren't hitting .400 or higher. In a stacked lineup, though, no bat is more terrifying than Lalor's, both because she's currently slashing .467/.800/.529 and because she can do things like this:
Venezuela: Migreily Angulo
Venezuela excels by playing small ball, and no one's better at it than Angulo. She's 6-for-15 with four walks and three steals so far, and more importantly, she can absolutely go get it in left field:
Dominican Republic: Yanela Gomez
If you love pulling for the underdog, the Dominicans are the team for you: They went just 2-3 in Round 1, but a close win over Australia got them through. The D.R. has an uphill climb ahead of it, but it's impossible to count it out, largely because of sparkplugs like Gomez, who's got a cool 1.238 OPS -- and a glove that might be even better than her bat:
Chinese Taipei: Yu-Ying Hsieh
As loaded as Team USA is, they didn't win their group: Chinese Taipei did, thanks to a white-knuckle 4-3 win over the Americans on the final day of Round 1. With a deep and balanced lineup, they're more than good enough to win the whole thing. Even more importantly, though, they have an infinite amount of swag:
Here's where we inform you that, righteous bat flips aside, Hsieh is Taipei's best pitcher, with one win, one save and zero earned runs over 12 innings pitched thus far. And her teammates are every bit as fun: