Team Canada’s Jenna Caira speaks with a group of young softball players during a youth skills clinic held Monday morning at Sunnyside Park. (Nick Greenizan photo)

South Delta, Lakehill win Canada Cup’s Select tournaments

International women’s teams arrive Monday, and begin play Tuesday in South Surrey

The first few days of the Canada Cup are in the books, and though the tournament’s biggest draws – the women’s international division – does not begin play in earnest until Tuesday, there was no shortage of action on the diamonds in South Surrey and Cloverdale.

Two tournaments – the under-19 Futures Select and U16 Showcase Select – began play Friday, while a smattering of games from the Women’s International division were also played, though the majority of that division’s competitors did not arrive in town until later Monday.

In the three-division, 15-team Futures Select tournament, Victoria’s Lakehill Blazers ’99 led one group with a 4-1 win-loss record, while the other division leaders through the first three days of play were the Seattle Spice and Surrey Storm ’99B, both tied for the division lead at 3-1, and the South Delta Invaders, who sit atop their division, also with a 3-1 mark.

The lone Semiahmoo Peninsula entry into the Futures Select draw, the South Surrey-White Rock Thunder ’00, have a 2-2 record through four round-robin games.

In the playoff rounds, held Sunday at both Softball City and Cloverdale Athletic Park, the Blazers and Invaders met in the championship game, with the South Delta crew emerging victorious with a convincing 10-0 win.

In the Showcase Select tournament, Cloverdale Fury ’01, Abbotsford Outlaws ’01B and the Langley Xtreme ’01B teams were the division leaders through round-robin play – Cloverdale finished 5-1, while the other two teams were undefeated.

The playoff rounds, staged throughout the day Sunday, saw the PoCo Ravens, who were 4-2 in the round-robin, edge the Fury by a 2-1 score to win the championship trophy.

The Canada Cup’s two other youth tournaments – Futures Gold and Showcase Gold – began play Sunday, and wrap up with playoff rounds set for this weekend. In limited Futures Gold action Sunday, the White Rock Renegades ’99 and Surrey Storm ’01 each earned victories, while the South Surrey-White Rock Thunder ’99s tied the San Diego Renegades 5-5.

Four Showcase Gold games were held Sunday, too, with the White Rock Renegades ’02 losing 1-0 to the Tri-Cities Titans before rebounding with a 4-3 win over Team Seattle, while the Delta Heat ’01 defeated Tri-Cities 4-3 before losing 4-2 to a Japanese junior national squad.

The tournament’s senior women’s international sides arrived Monday from Oklahoma – where they competed at the World Cup of Softball – and begin play Tuesday. The Canadian national team will open its schedule with a game Tuesday evening against Philippines, and will play two games Wednesday – 10 a.m. against Pakistan and 7 p.m. against Chinese Taipei. Both games are at Softball City.

In late June, Team Canada captain Jenn Salling told Peace Arch News she and her teammates were excited to return to Softball City, especially now that interest in the sport has grown due to its re-introduction into the Olympic Games.

“Along with the World Cup, the Canada Cup has been the biggest international event every summer – it’s up there, as far as international events go,” she said. “It’s always such an exciting event… and now that softball is back in for the 2020 Olympics… it seems like the sport is getting back to where it used to be.”

Softball Canada’s development team, Canada Elite, has been among the busiest teams in the Women’s International competition, playing Saturday, twice Sunday and once again Monday. They remain undefeated.

Canada Elite, alongside Canada’s junior team, was also busy Monday morning as team members joined together – along with national senior team pitcher Jenna Caira, the lone member of the national team in town early – to host a youth skills clinic at Sunnyside Park.

Another team of young stars that has impressed in the opening days is the U.S.-based NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) all-star team. The NJCAA All-Stars have won three and lost just once – to Canada Elite.

All tournaments continue throughout the week, with playoff rounds and championship finals set for the weekend. For more – including up-to-date scores – visit www.canadacup.com