The dates of major baseball and softball events in 2018 have been confirmed ©WBSC

The World Baseball Softball Conferderation (WBSC) has confirmed the dates for three Baseball World Cups and two Softball World Championships which will be held this year.

All five tournaments will be staged between July and October, across five different countries.

Action will begin with the Junior Men's Softball World Championship, taking place in Prince Albert in Canada between July 7 and 15.

Between August 2 and 12, the Women's Softball World Championship will take centre stage in Chiba in Japan.

Panama will host the Under-15 Baseball World Cup in Panama City between August 10 and 19, before the Women's Baseball World Cup is held in Viera in the United States between August 22 and 31.

The final tournament will be the Under-23 Baseball World Cup in Nicaragua's capital Managua between October 19 and 28. 

National sides will have Olympic qualification on their minds when they compete in 2018 ©Getty Images
National sides will have Olympic qualification on their minds when they compete in 2018 ©Getty Images

Websites for all of the events have now been launched in five languages - English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

"This is an important year to showcase the global depth and excitement of our sport, as five of baseball and softball's youth and women's pinnacle international tournaments will be on display," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. 

"These World Championships will have a direct or cumulative impact on qualifying for the Olympic Games."

The winners of the Women's Softball World Championship in Chiba will automatically qualify for Tokyo 2020, where the sport will make its Olympic return after being axed following Beijing 2008.

The Under-23 and Under-15 World Cups will have the biggest impact on the WBSC's baseball world rankings, which factor in all age-group tournaments.

At the end of 2018, the top 12 ranked sides will qualify for the 2019 Premier12 tournament, another Tokyo 2020 qualifier.