Six Ridge Meadows teams compete at Canadian Open fastpitch tourney

Starting July 9, the Lower Mainland will be treated to nine days of home runs, close tags and rally caps, as the 2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship welcomes women softball stars from B.C. and the globe.

Starting July 9, the Lower Mainland will be treated to nine days of home runs, close tags and rally caps, as the 2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship welcomes women softball stars from B.C. and the globe.

The championship runs until July 17 and will take place at three diamonds in Surrey. Softball City will be the premier destination, and games will also be played at Sunnyside Park and Cloverdale Athletic Park.

The Canadian Open Fastpitch championship is one of the top three women’s fastpitch events in the world for 2011, and will feature more than 400 ball games, 1,300 athletes and 80 teams from around the world.

“This event is important to the game on so many levels,” said Softball Canada president Kevin Quinn. “To all the players, through all the divisions, it is a chance to measure yourself against the best at your level of competition in a fun, professionally organized tournament.

“Lifetime memories are made here.”

There will be three divisions of play – Women’s, Futures (under-19) and Showcase (under-16) – and all the International and Women’s Elite games will be held at Softball City in South Surrey.

Joining Team Canada in the Women’s International division will be top-ranked and 2010 ISF Women’s World Champion Team USA, Team Japan, Team Venezuela and Team Australia.

Canada won the bronze medal at last year’s ISF Women’s World Championships.

“[We] are pleased that Surrey has the opportunity to welcome the world’s top fastpitch teams to this tournament,” said Bal Gosal, Canada’s Minister of State (Sport). “These young athletes will experience the thrill of participating in an international competition and get to know the true meaning of spirit.”

In the Women’s Elite division, the host club, the White Rock Renegades, will be taking on teams from California, Venezuela, and Nanjing, China. The host Renegades will have a total of six teams taking part in the Open Championship.

The Ridge Meadows Minor Softball Association will be well represented at the tournament with six teams taking part. The Pride ’93 and Pride ’94 teams will both be competing in the top tier U-19 Futures Gold division, while the Rage ’93 team will be competing in the U-19 Futures Select division.

Both the Pride ’95 and ’96 teams will be competing in the U-16 Showcase Gold division, while the Rage ’95 squad will be in the U-16 Showcase Select division.

From elsewhere in Canada, clubs from Alberta and Saskatchewan will be taking part, as well as American clubs from Alaska, Arizona, California and Hawaii.

Tickets can be purchased online at CanadianOpenFastpitch.com, as well as at the parks. The action kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 with women’s play, as the White Rock Renegades face-off with the California A’s. The third-place and first-place games will be played on Saturday July 17 at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m., respectively.

All in attendance will be treated to some special events during the festivities. Young softball players aged eight to 16 can sign up for the Shaw Youth Clinics (between now and June 30) for a chance to play with and learn from some of the world’s top-ranked teams. Registration is available online at CanadianOpenFastpitch.com.

Visit the Scotiadome marquee tent for the Celebration of Softball, which offers a number of activities and exhibits for kids, parents and players. There will also be a Softball Heroes marquee tent, where past superstars, umpires, local coaches and other heroes in the softball world will be on-hand to enlighten and entertain you with stories and conversation. There will also be a “Guys Night Out,” a special night dedicated to the boys and men of fastpitch in B.C.

Both Softball Heroes and the Celebration of Softball are free with admission to the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship.

Of course, all of this is possible with the help of 450 volunteers who have given their time to help make this tournament one of the world’s largest fastpitch championships.

“A championship of this scope requires an enormous amount of planning and commitment on the part of the tournament committee to incorporate essentially three tournaments into one event,” said Dennis Bidin, president of Softball B.C. “This championship allows all of our softball fans an opportunity to see what can be accomplished by dedication, hard work and focusing on goals to be the best in your sport.”

This year, fans and spectators will also be able to participate in the coverage of this event. Upload your photos to Flickr, join in the conversation on Facebook, and use #COFP11 on Twitter to join in the fun and report what you’re seeing from the stands of the ballparks. Specific instructions will be available online at BCLocalNews.com.

In addition, Black Press and its local coverage will be providing exclusive coverage of the championship, with videos, stories and multimedia going up on BCLocalNews.com. Don’t miss our special feature section, and visit our site for links to follow the action live with Pointstreak Sports Technologies real-time scoring, as well as live streaming video provided by SportsCanada.tv.