Fruitvale pitcher Allison Schroder will proudly wear the Maple Leaf for the second consecutive summer.
Schroder is heading south with Team Canada women’s baseball team this week to compete in the Pan Am Women’s Baseball Championship in Aguascalientes, Mex.
Schroder was named to the national team for the second straight year following a tryout camp in Okotoks, Alta. last month.
“It feels awesome to have another opportunity to play for Canada,” said Schroder. “It’s always a great feeling no matter if you’re a rookie or going as a veteran, nothing replaces that feeling of wearing your country on your chest.”
The tournament in central Mexico will also act as a qualifier for the 2020 WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup, with the top four of eight teams advancing.
Schroder made an impression while playing with Team Canada at the 2018 World Cup of Baseball in Viera, Florida in September. The then 16-year-old Schroder won an 8-5 victory over the USA in the bronze medal game and was nothing short of stellar in her three appearances, giving up just three earned-runs on eight hits, while striking out seven in 13 innings of work.
The international event and intense medal outing afforded Schroder valuable experience, but nerves will still play a factor when she takes the mound in Mexico this week.
“There’s a level of comfort that comes with that (experience),” said Schroder. “And going into this year, the nerves are there, and I’m sure they’ll be there going into a game, but you know what you’re going up against now. You’ve seen the teams, you’ve seen the competition, so there’s a sense of knowing what you’re facing that gives you more comfort.”
Eight teams will play in the first ever World Cup qualifier including the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Dominican Republic.
Canada was ranked no. 2 in the latest women’s baseball world rankings, but veteran players Kate Psota and Ashley Stephenson retired following the 2018 season, and a new manager, Aaron Myette, has taken over for Andre Lachance, now General Manager.
Team Canada still has a strong veteran presence with Prince George native Amanda Asay the longest serving member. Asay made her Team Canada debut in 2005 and played in seven World Cups. Claire Eccles, Jenna Flannigan, and Kelsey Lalor are the next senior vets with three World Cups under their belt.
This year’s team will also see eight rookies join the club, giving the team a good mix of veteran and first-year players on the roster. Despite the influx of new talent, Team Canada should be one of the top contenders, having medalled in six of the eight Women’s World Cups since its start in 2004.
“I still consider myself a rookie almost, but there’s a lot of new openings on the team, a lot of younger girls,” said Schroder. “It’s kind of a rebuilding year, but I’m confident that we’ll be just as competitive.”
With no AA-baseball team in Trail this summer, the 17-year-old J. L. Crowe secondary student played for the U19 Cranbrook Bandits in the Montana-Alberta American Legion Baseball League to stay at the top of her game. Schroder made regular trips to Montana to stay sharp on the mound and at the plate and helped the Bandits to a 19-15-0 record overall in the West Conference.
“It was a great experience, and a totally different level of competition than I’ve seen before. Playing at that next level, it’s super good to see where you line up against older guys, especially as a girl. I had a great time and I think it’s been one of the best playing experiences I’ve had.”
Schroder will likely play an even bigger role on this year’s Team Canada squad, as she was selected to play third base as well as pitch. The tournament goal is to finish in the top four, and Schroder will prove a valuable asset, on the mound or as a position player, to help Team Canada advance to the World Cup.
“There is competition within the team too, there’s other girls competing for that spot,” added Schroder, who is still the second youngest player on the team. “Hopefully, I get a bit more playing time, but if not, you’re still there and you’re still wearing Canada, so no complaints.”
The Pan Am Women’s Baseball Championship starts Saturday and goes until Aug. 25 in Aguascalientes, Mex.