Softball Canada has officially unveiled the women’s national team roster that will hit the field at the 2019 Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier in South Surrey in late August, and as expected, a number of Surrey and White Rock players have made the cut.
There were few, if any, surprise additions or omissions on the 15-player roster, which was announced Wednesday afternoon, with all key players from the team that won the Canada Cup in early July set to return to the Semiahmoo Peninsula for the qualifier event.
South Surrey pitcher Sara Groenewegen and Danielle Lawrie-Locke – both former White Rock Renegades stars – will anchor Team Canada’s pitching staff at the tournament, which is set to run Aug. 25-Sept. 1 at Softball City. As well, one of the team’s top offensive players, Holy Speers – a Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary grad – will return, and likely occupy a spot in the middle of the Canadian batting order, while Delta’s Kelsey Jenkins is also among the final 15.
Other players familiar to local softball fans – especially those who have attended Canada Cup tournaments in recent years – include Maple Ridge’s Larissa Franklin and Team Canada veteran Natalie Wideman, an Ontario native.
At the Americas qualifier, Canada will be one of 12 teams vying for two berths in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where the sport, along with baseball, will return to the Olympic docket for the first time since the 2008 Beijing-hosted Games.
Three players on this summer’s Canadian roster – Lawrie-Locke, catcher Kaleigh Rafter and infielder Jennifer Salling – remain from Canada’s 2008 team that finished just off the podium in Beijing, in fourth.
“I am excited about our team,” Team Canada head coach Mark Smith said in a news release. “The athletes have worked extremely hard and we are looking forward to the opportunity to play again at home this summer.”
After winning the Softball City-hosted Canada Cup, the national team returned to its National Pro Fastpitch league schedule – the squad plays on the pro circuit as the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois – and is currently headed to Lima, Peru, for the Pan Am Games.