Botswana enjoyed a comprehensive 21-0 victory over  Lesotho ©Facebook

Host nation South Africa began the 2018 Women's Softball African Championships with comprehensive victories in Pretoria.

South Africa defeated Zimbabwe 16-0 before enjoying an even greater dominance over luckless Lesotho, winning 21-1 at Attridgeville Softball Park.

Botswana also had a good opening day with 23-0 and 15-0 victories over Lesotho and Zimbabwe respectively.

Zimbabwe then defeated fellow strugglers Lesotho 21-14 to end the day on a high, whilst the battle of the top two teams of the day, South Africa and Botswana ended in a 9-5 victory for the South Africans, according to the official South Africa Softball Facebook page.

The top two countries will ensure their place at the World Championship, which are scheduled to take place in Chiba, in Japan, from August 2 to 12.

Seven nations are competing over the next two days for two slots at the flagship event.

South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe  and Botswana are joined by teams from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The tournament will use points system and the best team will qualify for the Worlds.

Botswana are the best ranked team in Africa and are ranked 17th in the world with 180 points, with rivals South Africa on position 21 with 40 points.

South Africa were dominant against Zimbabwe enjoying an 11-0 victory on the opening day of the event in Pretoria ©Facebook
South Africa were dominant against Zimbabwe enjoying an 11-0 victory on the opening day of the event in Pretoria ©Facebook

Botswana has always qualified with ease for the World Championships, having dominated the sport in Africa for some years.

"We have assembled a good team and expect a tough competition as every country would want to make it to the World Championships, especially those who have not been taking part. 

"Traditionally, Africa has always been represented by Botswana and South Africa at the world stage,” Botswana's Kelebogile Seitei said.

Kenya and Uganda were Africa’s two representatives at the 2016 Women's Softball World Championship in Surrey, Canada.

Uganda ranked 24th out 31 teams, while Kenya finished 28th.

The United States triumphed after beating defending champions Japan in the final.

The Americans had won seven consecutive titles at the event before succumbing to gold medal match defeats to Japan at two editions in a row.

Japan also beat the US in the final of the Olympic competition at Beijing 2008.

Baseball and softball were axed from the Olympic programme following Beijing 2008, but they have been re-added for Tokyo 2020.