Base instinct: Emma Entzminger eyes Olympic softball future

New sports either being added for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, or returning to the agenda, play to the Island’s strengths. That will be especially so in the Olympic debuts of surfing and wall climbing, where strong Island representation on the Canadian teams is expected in Tokyo.

Women’s softball, meanwhile, is set to return to the Olympic program in 2020, and Emma Entzminger of Victoria continues her quest to be there with the Canadian national team.

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She has earned a reputation as a reliable depth player and is on the Canadian team to the 16-nation 2018 world championships taking place in Chiba, Japan.

The third-baseman out of Lambrick Park Secondary and NCAA Div. 1 San Jose State is batting .250, with two runs scored and an RBI with one hit in four trips to the plate. One of her runs scored came as a pinch runner.

Canada is 5-2 in Group B behind host Japan (6-0) and second-place Australia (5-1). The U.S. leads Group A at 7-0.

The world tournament concludes Sunday with the gold medallist earning a bye into the 2020 Olympics.

If Japan wins the world tournament, then the silver medallist will earn the Summer Games bye. Japan is already in as Olympic host.

The other four spots in the six-team Olympic tournament will be decided during regional qualifying next year.

Canada won the bronze medal at the last world championship in 2016 behind the U.S. and Japan, so the podium is not out of the question this weekend. Nor will it be in two years back in Japan, when the sport returns to the Summer Games for the first time since Beijing in 2008.

Sarah Chow of Victoria did not make the trip to the worlds, but she is on the Canadian Olympic team long list. The Lambrick Park and NCAA Div. 1 Utah State graduate has battled through injuries the past year.

Chow was selected along with Entzminger for the prestigious Canada Cup last month at Softball City in Surrey, in which host Canada won gold.

The national team is coached by Maritimer and former Victoria Senior A pitching great Mark Smith.

He won gold with the national champion Victoria Bates (playing as Canada) at the 1979 Pan Am Games, among his several notable achievements while playing for Victoria.

Smith was selected No. 10, behind runaway No. 1 Sidney Crosby, in the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame’s ranking in 2017 of that province’s greatest athletes of all time.

The Canadian women’s team is turning into a tightly knit group under Smith.

“What separates this [Canadian] team from others is that we can be vulnerable with each other, lean on each other, and know that everyone will support one another,” Entzminger said before the Canada Cup.

“That kind of support system is important."

Especially so when the Olympic podium will beckon in less than two years.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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