The Canadian Women’s National Softball Team warmed up Friday at Softball City for next week’s WBSC Softball Americas Qualifier tournament.
And while high performance director/head coach Mark Smith asserted that “the process is that it’s business as usual,” there was still a palpable sense of excitement in the air at the prospect the team could win a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympiad.
Hopes are particularly high after the team’s silver medal performance at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, which included a perfect game against Venezuela (10 strikeouts without a single base-runner) pitched by White Rock’s Sara Groenewegen.
“This is the most important softball tournament on Canadian soil,” tournament spokesperson Laura Ballance told reporters.
“We’re pleased to note that Team Canada is entering it ranked number one in the tournament and number three in the world. We’re very hopeful that this is a path to Tokyo and a gold medal.”
“In my opinion this is the best (women’s national softball) team in Canadian history,” Tournament chair Greg Timm added.
Smith told Peace Arch News that there was no one game in the tournament the team is looking forward to playing more than the others.
“We’re keen to meet Puerto Rico again (Canada won 3-1 over the team in Lima) and also Venezuela and Mexico,” he said. “I’ve learned never to underestimate anybody. In softball one team can be having a bad day, and another can be playing their best game ever.”
Timm and Ballance pointed out that seven out of the 15 current team members are from B.C.
In addition to former White Rock Renegade star Groenewegen – who fought back to stage an impressive comeback after being hospitalized with Legionnaire’s disease (a severe form of pneumonia) last year – these players include former Renegade teammate Danielle Lawrie (who came out of retirement to contribute to the team’s bid for the Olympics) and Cloverdale’s Holly Speers.
The 12-team tournament starts with 7:30 p.m. game between Canada and Cuba on Sunday (Aug. 25), and will conclude with a “super round” (Aug. 30 to Sept. 1) to determine from among the teams the top two that will compete at the XXXII Olympic games.
Softball City is located at 2201 148 St. For more information, visit the local tournament website at americassoftballqualifier.com