Red Deer’s Kelsey Lalor was named to Team Canada on Thursday and will represent the nation at the 2018 World Baseball Cup in Florida next month. (Advocate File Photo)

Kelsey Lalor named to Team Canada roster for Women’s Baseball World Cup

Red Deer’s Kelsey Lalor has earned another shot to sport the red and white on the baseball field.

The 20-year-old was named to Team Canada’s roster Thursday for the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup in Viera, Florida next month.

It will be her second chance to wear the Canadian jersey as a part of the national team, after playing in the 2016 edition of the tournament when they finished second to Japan.

Lalor said anytime you can play for Canada it is special, but this year what stood out was the intense competition for a spot on the 20 player roster. She was among 26 women vying for a spot on the national team this week at a four-day selection camp in Montreal.

“It’s just a great feeling every year,” Lalor said over the phone from Montreal.

“You come here and we have such a big group of girls to select from. Every year our talent pool keeps getting bigger. It’s always an honour to be named to the national team and to have the opportunity to go play at the world cup again. Just a great feeling.”

It has been a busy two weeks of baseball for the third-year University of Saskatchewan student-athlete. During the school year, Lalor plays guard for the Huskies on the basketball court, but the summer is all about baseball.

From July 5-8 she played for Team Alberta at the 2018 Women’s Invitational Championship in Montreal, which serves as a national tournament. Alberta earned bronze with a 3-1 win over Quebec at the event and Lalor felt like she was at the top of her game and the group came together really well.

“I had a really good week at nationals. I was happy with the way I hit and got on base a lot. Got a couple extra base hits in there. Good for me hitting in the middle of the lineup,” she said.

“We just got together a little bit better as the weekend went on. Pitchers threw well and got back to hitting. All in all a great experience.”

That bronze medal win was followed by four days of exhibition games in Montreal, as a tryout for the national team. Lalor was one of 12 veterans who made the final national team roster. She said her experience last time around will definitely help in Florida. She expects to take on more of a leadership role in 2018.

“It is a lot different competing there. Just to be there for them and help them out, make their lives easier,” Lalor said about how she can help the younger group of players.

“The biggest thing is to remember you’re just playing baseball and even though you get to put on the Canada jersey in an international competition, playing at a world cup, it’s still the same thing every time. You just have to go up there and be confident in yourself and trust your training.”

Canada, ranked number two in the world for women’s baseball, behind Japan but ahead of the United States expects to be in the mix for a medal. Lalor explained that the team is hungry to prove that the silver medal win back in 2016 wasn’t a fluke.

“We’re excited. It’s cool now being ranked ahead of the Americans. That’s not something that happens a lot. Especially now, to go after Japan and go for that number one spot will be huge for us,” she said.

“Coming in second at the past world cup gave us a lot of confidence that we had the ability to do that and the ability of some of our players. Going after Japan will be a big one and it would be awesome to come out on top.”

Canada will open the tournament on Aug. 22 against Hong Kong before facing Cuba, Japan, Australia and the unranked Dominican Republic as part of Group B in the opening round.

Lalor, MacKinlee Kaulbach, Kaitlyn Ross, Nicole Luchanski and Madison Willan are the Alberta players on Team Canada. The full roster is here.

The Red Deer native will now return home from Montreal for a couple weeks, before going back to train with the national team in early August.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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