Outlaws primed for Canadian Open debut

Chelsea Jenner has been attending the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship since she was a little girl. This year, she gets to play in the Open, one of the world’s most prestigious fastpitch tournaments.

Chelsea Jenner of the Abbotsford Outlaws 95 squad keeps her eye on the ball during a recent league game. Her team is one of two from Abbotsford participating in the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship in Surrey.

Chelsea Jenner of the Abbotsford Outlaws 95 squad keeps her eye on the ball during a recent league game. Her team is one of two from Abbotsford participating in the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship in Surrey.

Chelsea Jenner has been attending the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship since she was a little girl.

This year, she gets to play in the Open, one of the world’s most prestigious fastpitch tournaments.

“Our whole team is pretty excited, because it’s such a big tournament,” said Jenner, who plays centre field and first base for the Abbotsford Outlaws 95 squad. “I remember when I was little, going and watching the older girls play. I always wanted to be like them. Now we’re in this tournament, and we’re playing teams from Hawaii and places we’ve never been before. I think it’s going to be a great experience.”

The Outlaws 95 are one of two local teams participating in the Canadian Open, which runs July 9-17 at a trio of facilities in Surrey, primarily Softball City. The Outlaws 96 are also in the event, which will feature more than 400 ball games, 1,300 athletes and 80 teams from around the world.

The tourney features three divisions – Women’s, Futures (under-19) and Showcase (under-16). Both Abbotsford teams are in the Showcase gold division.

The competition will be stiff, but don’t underestimate the Outlaws 95 – they’ve been defying expectations all season. After winning two consecutive provincial titles in the ‘B’ division, the second-year bantam squad made the leap to ‘A’ ball this year, and they’re currently undefeated in Lower Mainland league play at 13-0.

Jenner attributes her team’s success to strong coaching and chemistry, and a potent offensive lineup that doesn’t have any weak links.

“With most teams, the top five batters are good,” she said. “On our team, everyone can hit.”

Outlaws 96, the first-year bantam squad, is having a spectacular season in its own right. With an 12-5-1 record in league play, they’re the top 1996-born team in the Lower Mainland league.

Aggression on the base paths is the team’s calling card. In 42 games overall, the younger Outlaws have stolen 123 bases, with a success rate of better than 90 per cent.

“We haven’t played a game yet where we haven’t stolen a base,” head coach Jody Graboski said. “When you’re in a 1-0 or 2-1 game, moving a kid to from first to second without an out is a big advantage.”

Graboski said it’s a “big thrill” for his team to play at the Canadian Open.

“We actually get to play two games at Softball City right after the Canadian senior women, so the girls are real excited,” he said.

For more information on the Canadian Open, visit canadianopenfastpitch.com.