Franklin goes from Mastodons to the Maple Leaf

After impressive NCAA season, the Maple Ridge product named to Team Canada

She has made a name for herself stealing bases, but only honest effort got Larissa Franklin onto the national women’s softball team.

The Maple Ridge softball product and college standout went through three days of fitness testing, baseball drills, and numerous intra-squad games against the best women in western Canada. At the end of it, she was one of only four B.C. girls picked for the team.

Franklin had a healthy lead, in the fact that she had already played for Team Canada at the junior women’s level – competing in the World Championships in Capetown, South Africa in 2011. Canada placed fifth at that tournament.

“That got my name out there, but I still had to work my butt off,” said Franklin.

“Making Team Canada has been my only goal and dream my whole life,” she said.

“It’s pretty cool to walk into a stadium in a Team Canada jersey.”

Her speed on the base paths had already got her a role with the senior team – she entered the Canadian Open in Surrey last year as a pinch runner.

Making the team as a starting outfielder will cap another great ball season for Franklin, who won many accolades for her season with the IPFW (Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne) Mastodons. She was on the academic all-district team, named for success on the field and academically, as she is studying biology and working to become an occupational therapist.

She gets on base, then makes things happen.

Franklin is batting .358 through her first two years with the program, scoring 83 runs, fourth most in program history, while her 53 stolen bases are a career school record, as she owns each of the top two single-season stolen base totals in program history.

“Any opportunity, I look to go,” she said. “I don’t like to stay on first base.”

“My coach expects me to steal every time I get on base.”

That same terrier quickness also makes her a formidable defender. Franklin’s centre field is where fly balls go to die.

She is part of a program on the upswing, as the Mastadons won their conference, and went to the regionals for the first time in school history. It was a unique experience, playing in big, beautiful stadiums, packed with ball fans.

“Americans take their sports seriously,” she observed.

There’s more of the same in store this summer. She will play in the prestigious Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship, July 12-22 in Surrey. Team Canada, is currently ranked fourth in the world softball standings.

The Canucks will compete against the world’s top-ranked teams – including Japan, USA and Australia – in the Women’s International Division (July 16-22) at Softball City in Surrey. Also competing in this division are Team Venezuela and China-Nanjing.

They will also be at the US World Cup of Softball from July 11-14 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Making the team was the first goal, now Franklin wants to put up some numbers and get noticed. Three times a week she is swinging bats at an indoor fastball facility in Abbotsford, under the auspices of former men’s national fastball team member Dave Petkau.

She still has a goal to achieve – a final squad of 17, after additions and removals from this group, will represent Canada at the Women’s Pan American Championship, from Aug. 10-18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The next goal is to be on that team.

For information on the Surrey-based tournament visit www.CanadianOpenFastpitch.com.