A pair of Surrey residents, plus a high-profile name that will be familiar to longtime softball fans on the Peninsula, will be donning Canadian colours when the 2016 Women’s World Softball Championships come to South Surrey this July.
Last week, the Canadian national team announced its official roster – and South Surrey pitcher Sara Groenewegen and Surrey’s Kyla Benz both made the cut.
The roster unveiling also served as the official return of veteran left-handed pitcher Lauren Regula (formerly Bay), the sister of former Major League Baseball slugger Jason Bay who last pitched for Canada at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and was a regular presence at Softball City during previous Canada Cup tournaments.
The final roster was determined following a camp in Tuscon, Ariz. earlier this year, according to a news release.
While Regula’s addition to the team came as something of a surprise, the inclusion of Groenewegen was anything but.
The 22-year-old pitcher – and former star with the White Rock Renegades – has been a member of the national squad since 2013, and will likely be counted on this summer as one of the team’s top pitchers.
Groenewegen just completed her junior season at the University of Minnesota, where she finished with a 23-5 win-loss record and 250 strikeouts over 174 innings. At the plate, she was second on the team with nine home runs.
“She’s just tearing it up” at the NCAA level, world championships tournament chairman Greg Timm told Peace Arch News earlier this month.
“She’s had lots of seasoning now, and lots of experience. We have a local hometown hero here to watch, and that adds a really exciting aspect to this tournament.”
Benz – an alum of both the White Rock Renegades and Surrey Storm – is also a familiar face with the national team, having made the cut for last summer’s team, too.
“Proud to wear the Leaf!” Benz wrote on Twitter, a day after the team was announced.
Two names that were missing from Team Canada’s roster were veterans Jenna Caira and Megan Timpf, both of whom have opted to retire from international competition.
Proud to wear the leaf! pic.twitter.com/43ZiQZ8cDc
— Kyla Benz ✩ (@kylabenz) April 19, 2016