On the field, Team Canada – known locally as the White Rock All-Stars – are a fiercely competitive squad with an undefeated record both in the Little League Baseball World Series and at home, but between games, the 11- and 12-year-old boys are soaking in the opportunity to build friendships with their international counter-parts.
The boys are preparing for their noon game against Japan on Wednesday in the World Series at Williamsport, Pa. The Canadians beat Italy 12-2 last Thursday on their opening game and defeated Venezuela 7-3 Sunday morning.
Japan is the only other team with a 2-0 record so far in the tournament.
Instead of snarlingly eyeing down the team that will undoubtedly give Team Canada their biggest challenge as of yet, the boys in red and white have been building a relationship with the Japanese squad.
A win either Wednesday or Thursday would secure Team Canada a spot in the international finals.
“They’re feeling great. They’ve been pleased with how they are playing but they have really been enjoying their experience here, building relationships and friendships with players from the other teams,” coach Ryan Hefflick told Peace Arch News Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re all dorming together, swimming together, playing ping-pong together. Our boys had a ping-pong competition with the Japanese players this afternoon… On the field it’s competitive, but outside of it there’s a lot of friendship and sportsmanship.”
Before heading into the ping-pong competition, coach Hefflick offered some sound advice to his team of youngsters.
“I told our boys, whatever you do, don’t bet any money against them because it’s their national pastime. It was close, we lost by two points.”
On the field, Hefflick – who’s watched both of Japan’s games – said his boys have what it takes to beat the team.
“(Japan is) a very disciplined team. They play fantastic defence, they’ve got some good pitching depth. I think we’re a much more powerful hitting team than they are, but they make contact with a lot of pitches, play small ball and put the ball in play. We will have to be at our best tomorrow to beat them but we think we have a very good opportunity to win the game.”