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Return of softball to 2020 Olympics adds excitement to Canada Cup

Last Updated Jul 22, 2018 at 7:54 am PDT

(Courtesy of Canada Cup)

The Canadian National Women's Softball team is hoping their Canada Cup run will help them qualify for the 2020 Olympics

Conditions have been favourable at this year's Canada Cup tournament in Surrey, the Canadian women's team says

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – There haven’t been any rain delays at this year’s Canada Cup, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way as the tournament wraps up at Surrey’s Softball City this weekend.

The return of the game to the 2020 Olympics is adding to the excitement at this year’s tournament.

Danielle Lawrie — who pitches for the Canadian National Women’s Team — says taking part in the Canada Cup is all part of a bigger purpose.

“It is to try to qualify for the Olympics so there is a little bit more pressure with everything, but I also think that’s why we play this game, because we love the pressure and we try to thrive when we’re under it.”

The 10-day event wraps up with the championship game on Sunday.

Having just arrived back in Canada from southern California, Coach Mark Smith says the cooler temperatures in Surrey has been great.

“They were dealing with a heat wave and we were dealing with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees [Fahrenheit] a day, which is really difficult to play in and maintain hydration and energy and that sort of thing, so these temperatures… we’re much more accustomed to this environment,” Smith explains, with temperatures expected to hit the high 20s in the afternoon on Sunday in Surrey.

Lawrie says she agrees. However, the team is gearing up to face some more heat when it heads to Japan next month.

“Japan is way hotter and way more humid so, I think the hotter we can get it here, we’re just going to get used to it,” Lawrie explains.

Smith says the Canada Cup has been the premier women’s fastpitch event in the country for close to 25 years.

“Other provinces certainly have events, but none of the magnitude of this when you consider the number of teams that show up at this every year and the number of divisions that are available. It really is almost like a festival of celebrating female softball.”

He calls the city’s support of the event “remarkable”, and explains Ontario and British Columbia have both been the two larger centres when it comes to where the talent comes from.

Smith believes that comes down to population size as well as the climate, especially in BC.

“It allows athletes in this province to be on the field a lot longer than most other provinces, so there’s some advantages to that. But historically, they’ve been the two largest provinces that have produced the majority of talent.”

If you were to look at the national team, Smith says some years the split is 50/50.

There are 91 teams in total that take part in the Canada Cup, which is made up of five divisions of play — one being the women’s division of nine teams.

Canada’s women’s team has advanced to the final after beating New Zealand on Saturday.