Team Canada is juggling a few things today.
It’s the final day of the 2012 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships, and they’ve got a bronze medal game against Team Australia to prepare for. That goes at 5 p.m. at Softball City.
They also have a roster to figure out. Batting lineups to tinker with, and a pitching rotation to rank and order.
That’s because, as important as this week’s Canadian Open is to Canada, they have next week’s ISF World Championships in Whitehorse, Yukon to worry about, where they’ll go against Team USA, Team Japan, and Team Australia all over again.
“I think we’re definitely optimistic,” said Canada’s second base Jennifer Yee, a product of North Delta, B.C. “I think we’re on the upswing and that’s a good thing and as long as we peak at the right time at Worlds, then it’ll be good.”
Team Canada doesn’t have to look back too far to find a winning blueprint for tonight’s game against Australia. Canada beat the Aussies, 5-3, on Friday night to essentially clinch third place in the Women’s International standings.
“It’s always a good game against them,” said Yee. “Whether it be Australia, or Japan, or Venezuela, but it’s better that way to have a close game then not.”
Like Yee, Megan Timph is one of Canada’s veterans, combining skills, athleticism, and experience. Timph has been injured for parts of this past week, and has spent the rest of it between shortstop or third base.
“We’re in a good spot going into next week, and our ultimate goal is the World Championships, so we’re just trying to stay in the process,” said Timph. “Keep working on the little things to get better and hopefully it’ll pay off next week.”
Timph and Yee make up Canada’s experienced set, but the roster is also filled with youth. Canada made that decision last year to start its future now, and its future includes 17-year-old pitcher Jocelyn Cater. She came on in relief at last year’s ISF World Championships in Oklahoma, when Canada surprised Team USA in a 3-2 upset.
Cater has also become a role model for younger girls in Canada and Surrey, a shining example of the player they can become.
“I don’t know, it’s the same game,” she said of pitching in front of a Canadian crown. “It’s difficult because there’s a lot of people watching and, as a role model, I guess, it’s kind of a lot of pressure. But, it’s the same game and I just try to pitch like I always have.”
A Surrey native, Cater also plays for the White Rock Renegades, and this is her second time at the Canadian Open. She debuted last year at age 16, under the bright lights of Canada’s spotlight, and in front of an anxious South Surrey crowd.
“It’s amazing,” she said of the Open. “I played at this tournament first at a club level while I was growing up, and I think I always looked up to Team Canada, Team USA as really big role models, I guess.
“As one of the younger players, it really helps me to see the younger players now and know exactly how they feel, because I was right in that position.”
The hometown effect isn’t lost on Canada’s other players either.
“We always like playing in front of home crowds, and I’m from here, so it’s always exciting,” said Yee. “It doesn’t take much to get you motivated for these kings of things.”
“Even though I’m from Ontario, this feels like our home field,” said Port Dover’s Timph. “It always has.”