Team Canada infielder Shane Boland gives some pointers to local players during a kids camp at the Pepsi Softball Centre on July 5. Canada will kick off the 2017 WBSC Men’s World Softball Championships in Whitehorse with a game against South Africa on Friday. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Team Canada ‘can’t wait’ for World Softball Championship in Whitehorse

‘We’re a well-balanced, fast team’

Team Canada is raring to hit the field for the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship starting todayJuly 7 in Whitehorse, says head coach John Stuart.

“Our hitters are really in mid-season form, so we’re really excited to be here and get going — we can’t wait to get going,” he said.

“Our coaches and staff just looked at the fields and they’re just phenomenal. I don’t think we’ve played anywhere as nice as these fields.”

Team Canada is one 20 teams that will compete at the 15th biennial championship, being held at the Pepsi Softball Centre.

Canada is the defending champion, winning the 2015 worlds in Saskatoon. This year’s squad features 11 returning players including outfielder Steve Mullalay who hit three home runs, including a grand slam, to rally his team from down 5-0 against New Zealand in the championship game in 2015.

“We’re pretty well balanced; we’re comfortable putting anybody in in any position,” said Stuart. “We’re a very aggressive team, we’re very fast, our pitching — we’ve got four or five good pitchers who can throw against anyone in the world — and we’ve got some youth this year. So, yeah, we’re a well-balanced, fast team.”

Team Canada, which held a kids skills camp July 5 in Whitehorse, is coming as the team to beat. Besides being the defending champs, they went undefeated at the Bob Law Memorial Fastpitch Challenge in Vancouver last week. They outscored the competition 51-5 over six games, including 9-1 over U.S.A. and 10-3 over News Zealand in the final.

Canada, Japan, New Zealand and U.S.A. are all playing in their 15th men’s worlds championships, all having played every one since the first in 1966.

Team Canada will face South Africa in their first round robin games tonight at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve got a very tough division, but that’s OK. We’ve just got to concentrate on one game at a time and we’ll be fine, I think,” added Stuart.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Canada’s round robin schedule

Vs. South Africa — July 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Vs. Argentina — July 8 at 7 p.m.

Vs. U.S.A. — July 9 at 7 p.m.

Vs. Hong Kong — July 10 at 4:30 p.m.

Vs. Australia — July 11 at 7 p.m.

Vs. Dominican Republic — July 12 at 7 p.m.

Vs. India — July 13 at 3 p.m.

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