They came close in the world series, and now they’ll take on more of the world’s best.
Two Nanaimo softball players are part of Team Canada this summer and travelling far and wide. Brittany Dean and Keely Dodds helped Canada to a third-place finish at the Senior Little League World Series in Lower Sussex, Del., earlier this month, and are about to head to Prague to play in the Joudrs International Cup.
Trying to make Team Canada hadn’t really occurred to the girls growing up playing at Beban Park’s Gyro Youth Sports Fields, but they took softball seriously and eventually connected with a Victoria program to play higher-level ball. Their Beacon Hill team just kept winning and earned the right to trade its jerseys for ones emblazoned with ‘Canada’ on the chest for the world series.
“It was something I’ve never really experienced and I felt like it was a pretty big deal and it was pretty fun,” said Dean, catcher and outfielder.
Dodds, who plays first base, said it felt “very important” to play in Canadian colours.
“I’ve never represented my country before so I thought that was really cool,” she said. “I thought it was also cool seeing how different [teams] from all over the world, how they all play differently.”
Certain national programs had more of a small-ball mentality, while others swung for the fences. Team Canada was right there with the competiton. The team had a dream start to the world series, scoring seven runs in the first inning of their first game.
“We were definitely having a great offensive game that game and then there were other games where we’d only win 2-1 but we shut them out defensively,” Dodds said. “So it kind of depended on the day.”
Canada was unbeaten in the round robin and shut out New York 6-0 in the quarter-finals, but was edged 1-0 by the host team in the semis. Canada responded with a 5-1 win over Virginia in the consolation final. Both Dean and Dodds had multiple hits, including extra-base hits, over the course of the tournament.
“The competition forces you to step up your game,” Dean said. “Whether mentally or physically, you really have to be focused and you have to be ready all the time because you don’t know what’s coming when you’re playing teams you’ve never seen before.”
The experiences from the world series will help Team Canada as it steps to the plate in Prague from Aug. 26-28. Some of the competition will be the same, some will be all new, and either way, there’s no reason Canadian softball can’t be right there with the world’s best.
“We kind of know what we’re going into and I think we’re going into it with high expectations, especially seeing how we played in the world series,” Dean said. “So we’re going to go in there and try our best and we will be proud no matter how we place, but I think we’re expecting to do fairly well.”