BASEBALL: Team Canada pitcher feels right at home at Surrey’s Softball City

SURREY — Sara Groenewegen is no stranger to the Canadian Open Fastpitch International.

The 21-year-old pitcher from White Rock is heading into her third season on the mound for Canada’s senior women’s team, set to throw some fast ones over home plate during the 10-day July tournament. Groenewegen grew up near Softball City.

"I get to play in my backyard – I live, like, five minutes away from the park. It’s a really cool experience to get my friends and family out to the field," she said. "When I’m playing in Oklahoma or California, it’s just like other games, but here, I get to play in front of my friends and family."

With eight seasons with the White Rock Renegades under her belt, Groenewegen is returning to the diamond where she learned to throw. The University of Minnesota sophomore currently pitches for the school’s Gophers, and based on last season’s stats, she chucks one heck of a fastball.

Coming off of a 49-11 season with the Gophers, Groenewegen posted 17 doubledigit strikeout performances, including a school-record 19 strikeout game against Indiana’s Purdue University. In the circle, she had second highest win (31) and strikeout (379) totals in school history, ending the season with recognition from the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association as a Second Team All-American.

That’s the type of performance she hopes to bring to Softball City as the fourthranked Team Canada tries to clinch the gold from returning champions Team Japan, who are looking to five-peat in the tournament.

"We’ve got to have confidence that we can beat them and do the little things right."

Competition kicks off Friday (July 3).

Team Canada starts against the NJCAA All Stars on Tuesday (July 7). The team is also scheduled to face Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and, of course, Japan, throughout the week.

All told, 47 games will be played leading up to the final on July 13.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Canadianopenfastpitch.com.

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