Principia's Head Softball Coach, Ken Leavoy, once again had the opportunity to work for the Canadian National Softball Team this summer. Coach Leavoy scouts for the team as well as helps to run the practices and training sessions.
Leavoy met up with the team in early July to prepare for the Women's World Softball Championship, held in Surrey, Canada. This year, Canada had the home field advantage as this is where many of the women train and live. The World Championship has always been comprised of 16 teams, who qualified through their regional tournament, but this year was different. The softball committee has been trying to prove that softball does indeed draw crowds and fans to their contests. Since softball was removed from the Olympic Games after 2008, the sport has been trying to prove that they do have the fan support. In order to demonstrate world-wide support, this year's Women's World Softball Championship was opened up to any national team that wanted to come to the tournament. Thirty teams were able to make it to the tournament, which made this year the largest World Softball Tournament in history.
Team Canada ended up winning the bronze medal- which they have only done once before, in 2010. Canada notched up one rank higher than when they finished 4th in the 2014 World Championships. The USA won the tournament, with a sweet revenge game over Japan, who beat the USA in 2012 and 2014.
The Canadian team didn't win bronze easily, as they had to overcome some adversity initially in order to place 3rd in the world. Tournament play began with round robin matches in small groups, and after the round robin play, the first ranked team in the group received a double life going forward into the playoff round, the second place received a single life going forward, and 3rd and 4th go down to the consolation bracket to fight for placing 9th-16th. Canada put themselves in a hole right away with an untimely loss to Venezuela, a good veteran team, but one that Canada should have beaten. After this match, the team had to collect themselves, and mentally move on, because in order to get 1st or 2nd in pool play, they would have to beat Puerto Rico by 6 or more runs, which seemed like a big feat since Puerto Rico is a good team. But Team Canada came out unified as a team and competed well, taking down Puerto Rico 10-0. Canada still needed to finish out strong, which they did, beating Italy to finish 2nd in pool play.
Moving on to the playoffs, Canada had one life and they just kept winning. First, they beat China, who had just recently beaten Australia, who at the time was 3rd in the world. It was not easy, but Team Canada rolled past China and then played Mexico, a solid team as well who had a very strong pitcher that played at Arizona. After beating China and Mexico, Team Canada felt good and buried the Netherlands leaving only the USA, Japan and Canada left in the tournament.
Canada had to face Japan in the semi final match, and although they hung in for a bit, Canada's pitchers were spent, and ultimately Canada fell to Japan, finishing with the bronze medal.
Coach Leavoy commented, "I am just so proud of the team. Their resilience, their character, their resolve after putting themselves in that situation…after losing to Venezuela, it would have been really easy to not score 6 runs against Puerto Rico. For them to come out and do what they needed to do to keep going- I'm really proud of the character they showed".
Feel free to click here to visit the official Women's World Softball Championship page in order to see all results and press releases.
STORY COURTESY OF PRINCIPIA COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION