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‘Best of the best,’ and biggest: 1,500 softball players coming to Surrey for 2023 Canada Cup

For first time, the tournament will serve as a qualifier for Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series
Team Canada’s Sara Groenewegen pitches during a softball game between Mexico and Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics in July 2021, in Fukushima, Japan. The Canadians won bronze at the Games that summer. (File photo: Jae C. Hong/AP)

The tournament schedule isn’t yet finalized, but the dates in Surrey are set for what’s called the largest softball championship in Canadian history.

The 2023 Canada Cup Women’s International Softball Championship will run from July 7-16 at Softball City in South Surrey.

Organizers say this summer’s event will be the largest in the tournament and Canadian history, with more than 1,500 athletes confirmed to compete, including the Canadian national team.

Expected among them are Surrey’s all-star pitcher Sara Groenewegen, Victoria’s Emma Entzminger and also Larissa Franklin, from Maple Ridge. The three played on the bronze medal-winning Canadian Olympic team in Tokyo two years ago, and won silver at the 2019 Pan-American Games.

Team Canada won the tournament in both 2018 and 2019, before the event was cancelled in both 2020 and ’21 due to the pandemic.

Last summer, an all-American championship final capped the women’s international division, with Team USA defeating Triple Crown Colorado, an American club team, by a 5-1 score.

“There is no greater honour than the ability to represent your country in front of a home crowd,” Team Canada coach Kaleigh Rafter said in a news release Wednesday (Feb. 15).

“The Canada Cup has always provided us with the ability to compete against the best players in the world, while sharing our passion for the game with our fellow Canadians. It has been instrumental in elevating and growing the game of softball across the country.”

Now in its 30th year, the tournament showcases some of the top female athletes from across Canada and the world, at both club and national levels, in five divisions: Women’s International, Futures Select (U19), Futures Gold (U19), Showcase Select (16U) and Showcase Gold (16U).

For the first time, this summer’s Canada Cup will serve as a qualifier event for the Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series. The winners from the Gold Divisions will earn a berth at the championships in August 2023.

The tournament schedule will be posted to in the coming months, along with complete ticket details.

“Without a doubt we will see the very best of the best at this year’s event,” raved Canada Cup chair Greg Timm.

“From the top national teams to the elite club teams, we anticipate an incredibly strong tournament across all divisions. Additionally, we are thrilled to have our Gold Division teams competing for a spot in the Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series. It will create our most competitive event ever.”

• RELATED: Remembering Canada Cup founder Glen Todd, known for his love of horses and growing softball in Surrey and beyond.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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