Jill Russell of Canada tags Japan's Maki Furuta for an out at third base during a game at last year's Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch Tournament at Softball City.

Jill Russell of Canada tags Japan's Maki Furuta for an out at third base during a game at last year's Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch Tournament at Softball City.

National teams flock to Softball City

Canadian Open to include more than 1,300 players at three venues

Canada’s largest fastpitch tournament will host more than 1,300 athletes from 14 countries later this month at Softball City, Sunnyside Park and Cloverdale Athletic Park.

The 2012 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship will be contested June 30 to July 9, with seven national teams in the women’s competition highlighting the 10-day competition.

The defending world champion United States national team will be in Surrey, favoured to win a Canadian Open title that slipped away on the last day of play in last year’s tournament.

Japan defeated the Americans twice in the playoff round a year ago, clinching the win at Softball City with a 7-0 win in the final.

Canada, coming off a fourth place finish in the Canadian Open last year, Australia, Venezuela, New Zealand and Puerto Rico are the other national teams competing in the International Division.

Canada won a bronze medal at the most recent world championship tournament in 2010, with Venezuela placing fifth and Australia sixth.

The tournament will be the last major international competition before the XIII World Championships July 13-20 in Whitehorse, Yukon.

The Women’s Elite category will see national club teams from six countries competing, including the host White Rock Renegades Junior and Senior teams. Great Britian, Mexico and Peru will take to the field at the end of the month, as well as the Liaoning team from China, the St. Louis Extreme Elite and the California A’s.

National youth teams from Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela will compete in the Futures (18-and-under) Gold division, along with prominent club teams from California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and Washington. Local teams in this category include the Delta Heat ’95, Fraser Valley Fusion ’94, the South Surrey Thunder ’95 and the White Rock Renegades ’94 and ’95 teams.

The Showcase (under-17) Gold tournament will include local teams from the Surrey Storm, Delta Heat, White Rock Renegades and Fraser Valley Fusion rep programs competing with teams from Alberta, Ontario and the United States.