Fukushima, Japan – The Canadian Women’s National Softball Team is ready to open the Olympic Summer Games with one goal on their mind – the gold medal. Women’s Softball is making its return to the Olympic Games after not being selected in 2012 and 2016 and will be played one year later than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The six-team tournament opens on July 21st, with world no. 3 Canada facing no. 5 Mexico in their first game at 3:00pm JST (2:00am EDT).
Led by head coach Mark Smith (Falmouth, N.S.) and an exceptional coaching and support staff, the experienced Canadian roster includes four Olympians – Danielle Lawrie (2008), Kaleigh Rafter (2008), Jenn Salling (2008) and Lauren (Bay) Regula (2004, 2008) who are all looking to improve on their fourth place finish in Beijing 2008.
“It's unbelievable to think that Game 1 of the Olympics is right around the corner” stated pitcher and three-time Olympian Lauren Regula. “This is the moment that our team has dreamed about since Softball was reinstated back in 2016. These are going to be very exciting games as far as softball is concerned, and we feel great about where we are because we've left no stone unturned. We've done the physical and the mental work, we've put in the time, and now it's time to get out there and play our game for our country.”
The team features three players who joined shortly after Beijing, including Jenna Caira (Toronto, Ont.), Victoria Hayward (Toronto, Ont.) and Joey Lye (Toronto, Ont.) who have been mainstays with the team over the last decade and helped Canada to three WBSC World Cup bronze medal finishes.
Rounding out the roster are several key players who were developed through Softball Canada’s Junior Women’s National Team program and excelled at the NCAA level, including all four outfielders Larissa Franklin (Maple Ridge, B.C.), Jen Gilbert (Saskatoon, Sask.), Erika Polidori (Brantford, Ont.) and Hayward and catcher Natalie Wideman (Mississauga, Ont.) who competed at the 2011 WBSC Junior Women’s World Cup, along with Emma Entzminger (Victoria, B.C.), Sara Groenewegen (Surrey, B.C.), and Janet Leung (Mississauga, Ont.) who competed at the event in 2013. Kelsey Harshman (Delta, B.C.) and Entzminger represented Canada at the 2015 Junior Women’s World Cup.
Smith – who is also Softball Canada’s High-Performance Director – and assistant coach / manager Melissa Basilio (Oshawa, Ont.) have done a tremendous job in building a world-class program when they took over in 2009. In addition to their success at the World Cup, the team also won the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games and silver medals in 2011 and 2019. The coaching staff is rounded out with more recent additions Lonni Alameda (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Chris Jones (Oshawa, Ont.), and support staff with the team in Tokyo Natalie Ghobrial (Toronto, Ont.), Wade Gilbert (Fresno, Calif.) and Scott Willgress (Halifax, N.S.).
Prior to the 2020 season that was cancelled due to the global pandemic, the Canadian squad competed as the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois of the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF) to help them prepare for the WBSC Americas Olympic Qualifier, where they earned a spot among the six teams that will compete in Tokyo.
In 2021, the team assembled in Florida in March and played several games against local university/collegiate teams and a the Italian National Team before returning to Marion, Illinois for a six-week schedule as the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, facing the USSSA Pride and the Mexican National Team. After another few weeks in Florida to play another series with the Pride and some games against four Florida Gulf Coast League teams, Team Canada travelled to Anjo City, Japan to continue their preparations and play games against the Denso Bright Pegasus and Shokki Shining Vega from the Japanese Pro League.
The Olympic softball competition will feature six teams – USA (no. 1), Japan (no. 2), Canada (no. 3), Mexico (no. 5), Australia (no. 8), and Italy (no. 9). USA earned their spot by winning the 2018 WBSC World Cup and Japan earned an entry as the host country, with Canada and Mexico qualifying through the Americas qualifier, Australia won the Asia/Oceania qualifier and Italy won the Europe/Africa qualifier. The teams will play a full round robin, with the top two teams moving on to the gold medal game and the next two playing for bronze.
The first two days of competition will be played at the Fukushima Azuma Stadium, and after the opening ceremonies on July 23rd, the remaining games will be played at Yokohama Stadium.
|FIRST NAME||LAST NAME||HOMETOWN|
|Larissa||Franklin||Maple Ridge, B.C.|
|Jennifer||Salling||Port Coquitlam, B.C.|
|Head Coach||Mark Smith||Falmouth, N.S.|
|Assistant Coach||Lonni Alameda||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|Assistant Coach||Melissa Basilio||Oshawa, Ont.|
|Assistant Coach||Chris Jones||Oshawa, Ont.|
|Athletic Therapist||Natalie Ghobrial||Toronto, Ont.|
|Mental Performance||Wade Gilbert||Fresno, Calif.|
|Strength & Conditioning||Scott Willgress||Halifax, N.S.|
|Director of Umpires||Bob Stanton||Fredericton, N.B.|
|Technical Delegate||Roberto Perez-Leon||Delta, B.C.|
|Working Umpire||Frankie Billingsley||Edmonton, Alta.|
|Working Umpire||Geneviève Gaudreau||St-Hubert, Que.|
|July 21||Canada vs. Mexico||2:00am EDT|
|July 21||Canada vs. United States||8:00pm EDT|
|July 24||Canada vs. Australia||9:00pm EDT|
|July 25||Canada vs. Japan||1:30am EDT|
|July 26||Canada vs. Italy||1:30am EDT|
|July 27||Bronze Medal Game||Midnight|
|Gold Medal Game||7:00am EDT|
CBC is the official broadcaster of the Olympic Games in Canada and will be airing all games on CBC television and/or CBC.ca. Please check your local listings at https://www.cbc.ca/sports/broadcast
RDS will be broadcasting the games in French.
Tokyo 2020 Website
Softball Canada has created a Discord channel where fans can go chat while watching the games and has also launched its “CHEER ON” campaign allowing fans to submit messages of support to their favourite players! Post a video cheer on social media using #CheerOnSC and tagging Softball Canada we will share it with our followers!