When Whitehorse hosts the 2012 ISF XIII Women’s World Fastpitch Championship next summer, Canada’s senior women’s national team will obviously be the fans’ favourite. But they will have more than that going for them.
Twenty-six of Canada’s top women fastpitch players were in town for Softball Canada’s selection camp, which wrapped up on Monday at the Pepsi Softball Complex.
For the camp coaching staff divided the players into two teams, Red and White, and played six games, dubbed the Yukon Cup. From there coaches made a selection of 14 players, to first play two international events in the coming weeks, the PanAm Games in October, and then at the world championships next summer.
“Very good,” said head coach Mark Smith, of how the team is looking. “They are a talented bunch. We’re in tough as a coaching staff. We’ve told them to put the pressure on us by playing well and they’ve done that. We’ll go back tonight, sit down and make the tough decisions.
“No matter how you do it, 12 girls have to go home and that’s the disappointing part, from a coaching perspective, because you’d love to keep them all.
“They’ve done themselves proud, played well, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Though the games likely helped peak Whitehorse’s interest in next year’s world championship, they also gave the team a better feel for playing under Yukon’s Midnight Sun.
“We have a certain understanding of the wind currents, we have an understanding of how late it stays, and where the sun gives you trouble when you’re playing,” said Smith. “Those are things the other teams will have to adjust to on the fly, where we have the benefit of knowing.”
Not their first time in the Yukon, Team Canada played two exhibition games against the world champion US team last July in Whitehorse, splitting the series.
“Some of them were here last year, but there’s a bunch of new faces,” said Smith. “So we wanted them to be in the community, to get a feel for the facilities, to get the lay of the land and a bit of a comfort level.”
Last season’s Canadian team, nine players from which were invited back on after the selection process, was ranked third in the 2010 ISF World standings, behind US in first and Japan in second.
“The hospitality has been phenomenal,” said Smith. “(Softball Yukon president) George (Arcand) and his staff have been over the top. Any of the businesses we’ve been to downtown, the people have been extremely friendly.
“We thought it would be a great experience, for the girls to be exposed to and see what it’s all about.”
Meagan Baird (Ajax, ON) – SS
Jennifer Caira (Toronto, ON) – P
Jocelyn Cater (Delta, BC) – P
Paige Collings (Delta, BC) – C
Heather Ebert (Rosthern, SK) – IF
Kelsey Haberl (Burnaby, BC) – 1B
Victoria Hayward (Toronto, ON) – OF
Karissa Hovinga (Edmonton, AB) – P
Danielle Lopez (Barrie, ON) – 2B
Joey Lye (Toronto, ON) – OF
Melanie Matthews (Surrey, BC) – OF
Sarah Phillips (Mississauga, ON) – P
Kaleigh Rafter (Guelph, ON) – C
Jenna Rodriguez (Edmonton, AB) – OF
Jill Russell (London, ON) – 3B
Hannah Schwarz (Scarborough, ON) – OF
Megan Timpf (Port Dover, ON) – SS
Jennifer Yee (North Delta, BC) – 2B
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