Franklin preparing for world championships

Maple Ridge’s national team softball player Larissa Franklin enjoyed a breakout tournament...

Larissa Franklin has added a great bat to her outstanding speed and defence.

Larissa Franklin has added a great bat to her outstanding speed and defence.

Maple Ridge’s national team softball player Larissa Franklin enjoyed a breakout tournament at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International in Surrey, and enters the world championships with a new confidence.

Last year, Franklin served Team Canada mostly as a pinch runner and bench player, who stood out for her great defence, and track star speed.

This year, she didn’t know what her role would be.

“I didn’t really have any expectations – I just went in and played.”

But there were injuries to the talented Canadian outfield, and her role expanded.

“I knew I had to show up.”

Franklin’s bat certainly showed up. She played nine games, and got 13 hits in 27 at bats, for a sterling 0.481 batting average. That was one of the best averages of the tournament. She also scored six runs and drove in four more.

“I’m a lot more comfortable this year,” she said.

Franklin admitted that there were a lot of nerves in her rookie season – despite the fact that she had been a standout with the Canadian Junior women’s team, and had competed at the junior world championships in South Africa. Still, playing against the best women in the world, on the top-ranked teams like Japan, the U.S. or Australia, was intimidating at first.

“Now, I just see them as any other team.”

All of her hits were singles, because her game plan is to slap the ball to the left side of the infield, and blast off for first, forcing the infielders to make a perfect defensive play if they’re going to get her out. It’s a proven tactic that makes use of her best asset – her impressive wheels.

“I just put the ball in play and go.”

She doesn’t steal bases as much as she did during her 40-steal seasons in college.

“The catchers’ arms are unbelievable,” she said.

She leaves tomorrow for Ontario, to get ready for the world championships.

Team Canada will play the Stratford Brakettes club team in a pair of double headers on Aug. 3 and 4 in Bramptom, and then the national team women from Puerto Rico for four more games on Aug. 7 and 8 split between Mississauga and Brampton.

Then it’s off to the world championships in the Netherlands, from Aug. 15-24. It will be the 14th edition of the tournament, and the first ever held in Europe.

She’s not guaranteed to start in centre field.

“We have a very talented outfield. There’s five of us, and any of us could start on any given day.”

Canada enters the nationals ranked fourth in the world, behind Japan, U.S. and Australia. They know they’re good.

“We’re a better team than last year for sure, and all of the veterans are saying this is one of the best teams they’ve played on.

“If we show up, we should medal.”

Last season, Franklin played for the IPFW (Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne) Mastadons, where she hit .459.

With one year left of eligibility in the NCAA, she will move to the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers in Bowling Green, following her coach and a number of teammates who are making the move. She is majoring in psychology and minoring in health and nutrition.

So her itinerary for August will be Ontario, the Netherlands and then on to Kentucky.