Canada women’s national softball team pitcher Danielle Lawrie pitches during practice at the 2018 Canada Cup International Softball Championship in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday July 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Securing Olympic spot the latest test for Canadian softball squad at B.C. tournament

Softball hasn’t been included in the Games since 2008 when Canada finished fourth in Beijing

When Canadian softball pitcher Danielle Lawrie hits the mound this weekend, she won’t be thinking about what’s on the line.

The squad is competing for a spot in next summer’s Tokyo Games at a qualifying tournament in Surrey starting on Sunday, but Lawrie insists that every player is simply focused on the next game.

“Right now it’s just one day at a time and get ready to go to war,” said the right-handed veteran.

Locking up an Olympic spot would mark a big milestone for the Canadians.

Softball hasn’t been included in the Games since 2008 when Canada finished fourth in Beijing. While the sport is in for Tokyo, softball has already been nixed from the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Dwelling on that, however, would put extra pressure on the team, said Lawrie, one of three women on Canada’s current roster who also went to the Beijing Games.

“Pressure’s a privilege and we all know that. But at the end of the day, if I’m thinking about this maybe being the last Olympics for the next (eight) years, No. 1, I’m getting ahead of myself and No. 2, I’m not putting myself in a position to be present in what I’m doing,” she said.

“Right now, we need to qualify and that’s the only thing on my mind.”

It’s been a busy summer for the Canadians, and one that’s put them in a strong position heading into the qualifiers.

The team moved to Marion, Ill., earlier this year to play in the National Professional Fastpitch league as the Canadian Wild and finished the season third with a 22-20-1 record.

In July, the squad won gold at the annual Canada Cup in Surrey and earlier this month they took home silver from the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru after dropping a 3-1 decision to the No. 1-ranked U.S. in the gold medal matchup.

All that preparation has left the group feeling mentally and physically ready for the Olympic qualifiers, said infielder Emma Entzminger.

“We’ve put countless hours into practising, playing, repetition after repetition. And our sport’s big on reps,” she said. ”So I think going into this tournament we’re as prepared as we can be.”

The trick now is remaining consistent, said coach Mark Smith.

“We’ve worked really hard to prepare for this particular week,” he said. ”Now it’s a case of not going out and really trying any harder or doing anything differently than we’ve done all summer. If we can play within ourselves and do the things we’re capable of then we should be successful.”

At No. 3 in the world, Canada is the top-ranked team heading into the Olympic qualifiers and is grouped with Puerto Rico (4), Cuba (17), Guatemala (18), Argentina (25) and Bahamas (39) for the preliminary round.

The other group includes Mexico (5), Brazil (14), Venezuela (16), Dominican Republic (19), Peru (20) and the British Virgin Islands (57).

The Canadians faced a number of those squads at the Pan Ams earlier this month. Each time, the team was able to preserver through a lot of tough challenges, Entzminger said.

“We have a lot of depth on this team and we’ve played a lot of games this summer. And we’ve kind of had to deal with a lot of failures,” she said.

“I think we sent messages in the Pan Ams of who we are and what we’re here to do so I think that’s good moving forward to this tournament.”

The top two teams at the qualifying tournament will punch their tickets to Tokyo 2020.

Canada’s chances might look good on paper but rankings don’t matter heading into an international event, Lawrie said.

“Anyone can beat anyone on a given day,” she said. “So at the end of the day, I’m playing as though we’re the last-place team and people are coming and literally trying to beat us all the time, like we have the biggest target on our back. And that’s how we have to play.”

Team Canada will play Cuba on Sunday to kickoff the tournament.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Downtown Creston activity hub for Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo

Downtown Creston will be a hub of activity on Saturday when the… Continue reading

Creston Fire Rescue respond to six calls

Creston Fire Rescue responded to six calls from Sept.10-15 it reported. September… Continue reading

“Music of the Night: The Concert Tour” to Play at Prince Charles Theatre

The Concert Tour is a concert celebration of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th… Continue reading

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read