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PHOTOS: Maple Ridge softball players bring home silver from Pan Am Championship

Cece Brown, Tegan Harnett, and Rylee Ruppel played on the U18 women’s team

A handful of Maple Ridge softball players have returned from Colombia with some shiny new hardware thanks to their efforts in the U18 Women’s Pan American Championship.

The week-long tournament involved teams from nearly a dozen different countries, all of which were fighting it out for a spot in the 2024 WBSC U18 Women’s Softball World Cup Group Stage later this year.

Of the 16 players selected for the U18 Women’s National Team, three of them come from Maple Ridge – the most to come from any single city.

Cece Brown, Tegan Harnett, and Rylee Ruppel all travelled down to Colombia for the Pan Am Championship and put on quite the performances, helping their team make it all the way to the finals.

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After achieving a 6-1 record, Team Canada found themselves going up against Puerto Rico – the only team to beat the Canadians in the round-robin – in the gold medal match on April 6.

Scoring was kept to a minimum in the championship, with both teams getting several players on base, but were tagged out before making their way home.

It took an extra inning to settle the score, but eventually, the Puerto Rico team was able to pull out the win in a 2-1 final.

But the loss didn’t sour the experience for the Maple Ridge players, who all said they still had an amazing time representing their country at the Pan Am Championship.

“I met so many people from all over the world and made lots of unforgettable memories,” said Ruppel.

Harnett agreed, adding “All of the locals were super welcoming and a fun crowd to play in front of.”

For Brown, one of the biggest highlights of the tournament was getting to pinch-hit in their first matchup with Puerto Rico, where she hit a double and helped score the only run of the game.

She would go on to notch many more hits throughout the tournament, ending with a final tally of eight hits and seven runs across eight games.

“I had a group of amazing coaches leading me through the tournament and teaching me new things as it went on,” said Brown.

Harnett was no stranger to the crack of the bat as well, earning four hits and four runs throughout the tournament. But she recalled the Super Rounds match against the host team of Colombia as one of the most memorable moments for her.

“Coming off of a strong win against Mexico, our team was fired up to play under the lights,” said Harnett. “The stands were full and the crowd was wild with horns and flags, supporting their team. It was an amazing environment.”

Ruppel’s contributions to the team came from the pitcher’s mound, where she turned away a lot of disappointed batters throughout the week.

Pitching in five of the games, Ruppel managed to only allow seven runs, striking out a total of 18 batters.

“My team performed amazing and it was so cool to have played in front of so many people,” said Ruppel.

“Receiving my silver medal was a very special moment. It truly was a dream come true.”

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With their silver medals secured, Team Canada has become one of five teams from the Pan Am Championship to advance to the WBSC U18 Women’s Softball World Cup Group Stage.

Taking place in three stages this summer, this international showdown will include 18 teams from all over the world and will determine who qualifies for the next World Cup.

Brandon Tucker

About the Author: Brandon Tucker

I have been a journalist since 2013, with much of my career spent covering sports and entertainment stories in Alberta.
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