Next month, the White Rock Selects will trade the teal and black colours of their home association for the red and white of their country, at one of the biggest baseball tournaments in North America.
Beginning Aug. 12, the Selects, made up of 12-year-old members of the White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association, will represent Canada at the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland.
They earned the right to don the Maple Leaf after edging the Calgary Coyotes 2-1 in a best-of-three series, which was played at Laronde Elementary last week.
“And now we get to wear Team Canada jerseys – and that’s pretty cool,” said White Rock assistant coach Melissa Bonn.
“The boys are all pretty excited.”
Calgary travelled to South Surrey last week for the best-of-three Cal Ripken qualifying series, and in the first game Thursday, did not show much in the way of road weariness – they scored three runs in the first few innings, and cruised to an 8-4 victory.
But the resilient White Rock squad – buoyed by the addition of two pitchers, Ty Westgard and Sam Shoemaker, who had been playing on White Rock’s other all-star squad, whose season ended last week – bounced back in Games 2 and 3.
On Friday morning, with Westgard on the mound, White Rock won 13-3 in just four innings – at which time the mercy rule was invoked – and in the deciding contest later that afternoon, Shoemaker pitched the home team to an 8-3 win.
According to Bonn, the series win was made even more impressive considering the Calgary squad was made up of all-stars from throughout southern Alberta, rather than just from Calgary, as opposed to White Rock, which boasts purely home-grown talent.
“It’s pretty impressive, how the boys played,” she said.
White Rock leaves next week for Aberdeen, which is 60 km northeast of Baltimore. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for Aug. 12, with the Peninsula crew’s first game slated for the following day, when they take to the diamond against Japan. Following Japan, they’ll play round-robin games against Mexico, Korea, Australia and the Dominican Republic.
Bonn expected the competition to be stiff – certainly the toughest test her team has ever faced.
“We’re just very happy to be there – it’s going to be a good experience,” she said.
Cal Ripken Baseball differs from Little League in that base-paths are 50 feet rather than 40, pitchers pitch from further away and base-runners are allowed lead-offs on the bases.
White Rock’s other 12 year-old summer all-star team, which was aiming for a spot at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., was eliminated in the District 3 championship game, losing to Langley.
Twice White Rock has advanced to the Little League World Series – in 2007 and ‘08 – but have not made it to the Ripken finals since 2004. In 2005, a team of 12-year-olds earned bronze at the Cal Ripken Regionals.
For more on the Cal Ripken World Series, visit the tournament’s website, http://crws.ripkenbaseball.com/