Team Canada’s Sara Groenewegen throws a pitch against Phillipines during last year’s Canada Cup. The South Surrey pitcher is back on the team again this summer, along with a handful of other local players. (File photo)

Lower Mainland players dot Canadian softball roster for Canada Cup

Team Canada begins play Tuesday afternoon against Korea

Canada’s national women’s fastpitch roster has been set – and it features a handful of Lower Mainland players.

Announced last week, the national squad – which will compete at next week’s Canada Cup in South Surrey – includes a pair of Surrey players, one from Delta, as well as two others with ties to the White Rock Renegades’ softball program.

South Surrey’s Sara Groenewegen – who has been a mainstay of Team Canada’s pitching staff since 2013, when she was fresh out of high school – is back in the red and white this summer, and she will be joined at the Canada Cup by Surrey’s Holly Speers and Delta native Kelsey Jenkins.

As well, Langley’s Danielle Lawrie-Locke – a former Renegade as well as former national teamer – is back on the squad after coming out of retirement earlier this spring, and another former ‘Gade, Maple Ridge’s Larissa Franklin, is also on the roster.

Other notable B.C. players who will be at the Canada Cup are longtime infielder Jenn Salling and Victoria’s Emma Entzminger.

“Nothing beats the opportunity to play in front of family and friends and wearing the Maple Leaf on my jersey,” said Groenewegen, who was a three-time All American at the University of Minnesota and more recently has served as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma.

“But we also know the Canada Cup will be an important test of how we come together and sets us up for other international tournaments that follow, in the hope of qualifying for the Olympics.”

“The fact that almost half of this year’s national team hails from British Columbia says a great deal about the quality of softball players emerging from this province,” said Canada Cup chair Greg Timm.

“Even more significant is that this squad, with a core nucleus from BC will be working, training and playing together to achieve a berth in the 2020 Olympics.”

For Speers, who was named an All American at Kent State University this past season, the Canada Cup tournament is one that has been eyeing for awhile.

“I recall being seven or eight years old and watching the Canada Cup,” said Speers, a graduate of Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary.

“Now, as a player, this is the event we circle on our calendars because it’s the only major tournament of its kind in Canada where we get to play in front of friends and family.”

The Canada Cup tournament – which features more than 90 teams at the under-16, under-18 and women’s senior levels – begins today (Friday) with youth teams playing at Softball City beginning at 1 p.m. The women’s international division – which includes Team Canada, a number of other international squads plus the White Rock Renegades’ senior team – begins play Tuesday.

Canada’s first game is against the Republic of Korea, Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. at Softball City. The Canadians will play a second game Tuesday evening, 6 p.m. against Triple Crown Colorado. A second Canadian team – the Canada Elite development squad – plays Tuesday at 1 p.m. against Czech Republic and at 8:30 p.m. against Alberta’s Calahoo Erins.

For a full schedule, visit www.canadacup.com

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