A South Surrey/White Rock Thunder infielder forces out a Richmond Islanders opponent during play in the Futures division last year. The Thunder will compete in this year's Futures Gold division.

Futures Gold starts play at Softball City

Scotiabank Canadian Open organizers hoping for warm weather

Unlike last year’s tournament, there will be no rain at this year’s Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship.

Tournament director Greg Timm guarantees it.

“We’ve done a better job of planning this year. The weather is going to be fine,” he said Monday, five days before the annual fastpitch tournament was set to hit the diamonds at Softball City, Sunnyside Park and Cloverdale Athletic Park.

Timm is kidding about the weather, of course – though after last year’s water-logged week, no one could blame him if he’d brokered some kind of deal with the weather gods.

Because of rain, the 2011 Canadian Open was a flurry of rain delays and rescheduled games, though in the end, most of them – including all the championship finals – were played.

“It was a rough year last year, probably the worst in all our years, but what that does is it makes you resilient,” Timm said.

“If we can survive that, we can survive anything.”

With warm weather signed, sealed and – hopefully soon – delivered, Timm and his crew of tournament organizers have turned to other duties, as teams began arriving this week for the June 30-July 9 event. Teams competing in the Women’s International Division – including Team Canada – don’t arrive until Monday, and don’t begin play until Wednesday, July 4, but the Future Selects and Showcase Selects divisions, for under-18 and under-16 teams, respectively, hit the field Saturday.

The Futures Gold and Showcase Gold, meanwhile, begin Monday.

In the Futures (under-18) Gold division, 30 teams – including 13 from B.C. – will vie for the championship crown which for the last two years has been won by California’s Worth Firecrackers. Other teams in the running include clubs from Brazil, Venezuela and across the U.S.

“The Futures Gold division is going to be very, very strong this year,” predicted Timm. “It’s hard to say how it might (shake down) until the teams hit the ground. We don’t know what Brazil is going to look like, or what the Venezuela youth team will look like. We do know what the Firecrackers will look like though – they’re fantastic.”

The three Renegades teams – the ‘94, ‘95 and ‘96-born squads – will also be in contention, as will Surrey Storm ‘95 and the South Surrey-White Rock Thunder ‘95 ‘A’ team.

“That Thunder ‘A’ team is very good, and I think they might surprise some people,” Timm said.

In the Showcase Division, three more teams from the host Renegades organization will hit the field, as will the Surrey Storm ‘97 and a pair of Delta Heat teams, the ‘96s and ‘97s.

Other teams include California’s Nor Cal Assault and the Oregon Panthers from Keizer, Ore.