Mexico's softball and baseball teams make history

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 17: Mexico players celebrate their victory and qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after the WBSC Premier 12 Bronze Medal final game between Mexico and USA at the Tokyo Dome on November 17, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 17: Mexico players celebrate their victory and qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after the WBSC Premier 12 Bronze Medal final game between Mexico and USA at the Tokyo Dome on November 17, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

The women's softball team and men's baseball team qualified for their first Olympics

The two teams have secured their tickets for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and are currently the only two teams from Mexico to have done so, with the nation waiting to see if the football team also qualify.

This is the first time in history that Mexico's softball team has qualified for an Olympic Games. In addition, softball will also be the sport that opens the most anticipated sporting event of the year, with competition due to start two days before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball arrives in stomping fashion

Mexico will begin their Olympic journey against Canada on 22 July at the Fukushima Azuma Stadium before facing Japan (23 July), the United States (25 July), Italy (26 July) and Australia (27 July).

Mexico achieved qualification through the Americas tournament held in Ottawa, Canada, last August, where they defeated the host team 2-1 in the final.

The result makes Mexico's dream of reaching the podium in Japan a real possibility since Canada was the higher ranked side of the two.

CHIBA, JAPAN - AUGUST 10:  Suzanund at ZOnah Lillian Brookshire Gonzalez #5 of Mexico celebrates with team mates after hitting the game winning RBI single in tiebreak against Italy  during their Playoff RoZO Marine Stadium on day nine of the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship on August 10, 2018 in Chiba, Japan.  (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - AUGUST 10: Suzanund at ZOnah Lillian Brookshire Gonzalez #5 of Mexico celebrates with team mates after hitting the game winning RBI single in tiebreak against Italy during their Playoff RoZO Marine Stadium on day nine of the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship on August 10, 2018 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
2018 Getty Images

At the moment, Mexico is fifth in the international ranking but coach Carlos Bernáldez hopes they continue their rise and win a medal at the Olympics.

“I hope to go up in the ranking and fight for a medal. Among the ranked teams, we have beaten all but Japan. We have four top-tier pitchers," he told AGP Deportes.

Dallas Escobedo, a former Arizona state softball star, is one of the leading players on the national team and is expected to do well in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old, is one of a dozen team members from the 2019 Pan American Games who were born in the United States. Mexico's national softball federation has scouted, identified and recruited dozens of US born players of Mexican descent at American universities since the beginning of this decade.

Baseball with gold letters

The softball team will not be alone in Japan. For the first time in the history of baseball, Mexico has also qualified for the Olympic Games.

After a disappointing showing against Korean Republic and Japan which saw them finish third in the second round of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier 12 last year, Mexico beat rivals the United States 3-2 to secure their spot at Tokyo 2020... and a bronze medal.

Heading into the match, results weren't on Mexico's side with the United States in high spirits having defeated Chinese Taipei while Mexico had beaten Australia. It was this result that put the USA and Mexico in line to battle for the bronze medal.

When asked after qualification about the Olympic Games, the coach of Mexico's baseball team Juan Gabriel Castro said the team will “keep getting ready, even better than what we did for this event. Mexico is growing, you will hear Mexico’s name a lot of times and you’ll see Mexico in a lot of tournaments".

Efren Navarro was Mexico’s hero during the bronze medal match. The veteran, who is born the USA, played with the Chicago Cubs last season before moving to the Hanshin Tigers, a team based in the Japanese city of Nishinomiya. Navarro hit the game-winning single against the United States at the bottom of the 10th inning to earn Mexico a spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Next July, like softball, baseball will also make its return to the Olympics after a 12 year absence. The last time both sports featured in the Olympic Games was Beijing 2008 and, on its return, Mexico hopes to write their name in Olympic history.