They had landed in the morning and had officially arrived with a 5-1 opening night win over the California A’s.
Now, Team Canada is set to push for gold at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship – a medal that has eluded them in previous years.
The Canadian women are coming off a win over Japan in last week’s World Cup of Softball, an accomplishment that has them elevated for this week but also realistic about the long game – Japan did end up winning the World Cup, with a 7-4 victory of Team USA in the final.
“I think we’ll fare pretty well, we’ve been playing well over the past week,” said utility player Joey Lye, from Scarborough, Ont. “We have a lot of new players on the squad this year and it’s been awesome.
“We’ve been going through all the details and really meshing as a team… doing lots of reps of team play in the field, just to make sure that we’re all on the same page and it’s been really good for us.
“I expected for us to push to be in that championship game this week.”
This year’s Canadian team features a host of local girls – including White Rock Renegades stalwarts like Sara Groenewegen and Sara Hopwood, both of whom are in their first year with Team Canada – and a sprinkling of vets like Ontario’s Lye and Megan Timph.
“Putting on the jersey, obviously, is a big honour,” said Groenewegen, who also made her national debut with the Junior team this year. “In front of my home crowd, it’s a pretty special feeling obviously – get some friends and family out to watch me play.”
“It’s definitely surreal,” said Hopwood. “I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to put the uniform on. For me to do it this year… it’s what I wanted my whole life playing softball.”
Canada plays Team Australia tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. on Softball City’s Diamond 1. The Canucks lost to the Aussies in the bronze medal game at last year’s Canadian Open, and they come in one spot behind them in the ISF world rankings, too.
For those seeking the border battle, Canada plays Team USA on Friday, at 6:30 p.m.