A year ago, the White Rock Renegades senior team won the women’s elite division at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship.
But rather than defend their title this time around, they’ll face a much tougher task when the tournament begins July 15 – playing national teams from across the globe.
This year’s Canadian Open does not have an elite division – which in the past featured club teams from across North America – so the Renegades senior squad and other club teams have been thrown into the deep end alongside national powerhouses such as the United States, Japan, Canada and others.
“There are a few nerves, because it’s probably going to be tough competition,” said Renegades catcher Courtney Gill, a six-year member of the senior team.
“All of us have experience at different levels, at university, or at nationals – things that are comparable – but this will be at a whole different level.”
At the Open, the Renegades senior team – originally created to give the program’s 19-year-old-plus players a team to play for between college seasons – will square off on the diamond against Mexico, Japan, the United States and Canada.
When the over-19 team was created, they stayed busy throughout the spring and summer, frequently winning provincials – they won three in a row at one point – as well as national titles, the last of which came in 2011.
Now, however, with players having more commitments – be they school, work or coaching – the team convenes in June, and plays just two tournaments, the Canadian Open and the Kassandra Kaulius Memorial tournament, which they won last month.
“We are fortunate that we’re still able to play and stay active,” said Gill, who played four years at the University of Detroit and now coaches the Renegades’ U18 team in addition to continuing to play at the senior level.
And though this year’s team has only been together a few weeks, Gill said they were excited for the challenge the Canadian Open’s international division provides.
“To get to play in front of a local crowd, against teams like this, it’s going to be great,” she said.
“It never gets old – not ever,” added teammate Cass Dypchey, who has played in every age division of the Open through the years.
The Canadian Open begins July 11 and runs until July 21. For more information, visit www.canadianopenfastpitch.com