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Maple Ridge softball star says Team Canada rolling into worlds

Larissa Franklin on women's national team, Scott Nehaj joins men's team
Larissa Franklin speaks to young Maple Ridge athletes who will be attending the BC Summer Games.

Maple Ridge's national team softball star Larissa Franklin is feeling good about Team Canada as they head to Italy for the 2024 Women's Softball World Cup on Wednesday.

Team Canada is buoyed from winning gold at the Canada Cup International Softball Championship in Surrey, going a perfect 8-0, and wrapping the tournament up July 7 with a convincing 7-0 finals win over U.S. powerhouse TC Colorado.

"I'm excited. We have a good team, and things are coming together, which is always nice to see," said Franklin, who is the starting centre fielder. "We're having a lot of fun, which I think is kind of the starting point.

"There's lots of good potential. We've been rebuilding for the past couple of years, since the Olympics, so to be able to see it all coming together, see people's work really coming together, it's exciting, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in Italy."

At 31, she was a key player in the tournament. She brings a ton of international experience, including winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. She's still performing at a high level.

"It's nice to be able to say I feel good about my game. I'm a pretty confident player, however, you always go through those bumps throughout your career, and I'd say I've had those over the last couple of years."

"This tournament, I kind of felt like myself as a player, and felt I had a good performance."

Franklin batted all over the order, but finished the tournament hitting third – the spot generally reserved for the most consistent bat.

"I really saw my role as the catalyst, getting things going, and helping the team build momentum. I really enjoyed that role."

Canada went 5-0 in pool play with wins over Mexico (9-1), Israel (10-3), Philippines (12-0), New Zealand (9-0), and Hong Kong (7-0).

In the playoff round they beat Australia 4-3, TC Colorado 6-3, and then played TC Colorado again in the final, and shut them out 7-0.

The tournament, now in its 31st year, showcased some of the top female athletes from all-across Canada and the world.

“This tournament represents the unifying power of sport to transcend politics and bring people from all over the world together. Despite no softball at this year’s Paris 2024 Olympics, the level of play showcased during this tournament is setting the stage for a stellar return to the Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles,” said Greg Timm, tournament chair.

The World Cup will be held in Italy on July 15 to 20, and fifth-ranked Canada is in a group with top-seeded Team USA, the host Italy at sixth, and 17th-ranked China. The other group features Australia (10), Japan (3), Netherlands (8), and Puerto Rico (2).

After three group games, the top two finishers in each group will advance to the super round.

Franklin isn't the only softball star representing Maple Ridge on the world stage, with Scott Nehaj also being named to the national men's team for the 2024 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Group Stage B.

Nehaj is one of 16 Canadian athletes who hopes to advance to the 2025 WBSC World Cup Finals next July. But first, they must bring their A-game to the group stage, which takes place from July 10 to 14 in Prince Albert, Sask.

Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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