Surrey’s Melanie Matthews (left) and North Delta’s Jennifer Yee will play for Team Canada during the 2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship

Surrey, North Delta athletes named to Team Canada fastpitch roster

The 2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship gets underway this weekend, with 1,300 athletes from around the world in Surrey to compete.

Softball athletes Jennifer Yee and Melanie Matthews have played at world championship tournaments and have participated in the Summer Olympic Games.

But there’s always something special about the first few weeks of July.

That’s when Yee, from North Delta, and Matthews, from Surrey, sport the red and white national team colours at one of the most anticipated fastpitch events in the world.

This year, the pair will play for Team Canada at the 2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship at Softball City.

“I always look forward to this tournament, playing near home is nice,” said Yee, a four-year veteran of the national team. “You always want to put on a show for friends and family, so there is some pressure. But it’s a good kind of pressure.”

Five of the top six national teams in the world will be at Softball City in the women’s International category, including the world champion United States, runner-up Japan, bronze-medalist Canada, Venezuela and Australia.

“It’s fun, I look forward to it every year,” said Matthews, a left-fielder. “We’re all used to it, and the fans have always been so supportive.”

Twenty-six-year-old Yee, who plays second base, spent the week in Whitehorse at the Senior Women’s National Team Selection Camp, and was on the 17-player roster for the Canadian Open announced by Softball Canada today (Wednesday).

Two other local players were also named to the team: catcher/infielder Paige Collings and pitcher Jocelyn Cater, both of South Delta.

“I liked Whitehorse, the people are very friendly and we were very well received,” said Yee Wednesday morning, while on the highway for a day trip to Skagway, Alaska.

“We had a lot of people out to watch the Red versus White scrimmages we had every night.”

While Yee has spent the last week on the softball diamond, Matthews might take a game or two to get back into the swing of things.

A full-time employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Vancouver, the 27-year-old admits “it’s been a challenge to juggle ball and work.”

Off-field commitments prevented her from attending the selection camp in the Yukon, but she will join the team Friday evening for an exhibition game against the California A’s (8:30 p.m. at Softball City).

“I definitely need to get a few swings in,” said Matthews. “I’m looking forward to getting back on the field, and not have to worry about work.”

The 2011 Canadian Open International Championship begins Saturday, July 9 and runs through to July 17 at Softball City (2201 148 St.), Cloverdale Athletic Park (16982

64 Ave.) and Sunnyside Park (15455 26 Ave.). More than 80 teams – 1,300 athletes – will compete at this year’s event.

For more information, visit CanadianOpenFastpitch.com