As the world’s third-ranked squad heading into the Tokyo Olympics, Saanich’s Emma Entzminger and the rest of Canadian softball team will only be satisfied with the top of the podium.
Entzminger told Black Press Media the team going to next month’s Games is the best in Canadian history.
“We’re the best in the world and we’re determined to win a gold medal,” she said.
Softball will make its first Olympic appearance since 2008 after it was dropped in the last two Summer Games.
Entzminger is motivated by those who continued to grow Canada’s softball program amid the 13-year Olympic hiatus, and said they’ll be playing for those who paved their path to Tokyo. It’s also not lost on her that she’ll be playing for the entire country.
“Being proud of who you are and where you come from is something that we cherish,” she said. “It’s going to be a pretty special moment to go out there and wear Canada across your chest.”
The Canadian team’s tight bond can be felt out on the diamond, Entzminger said. From the leadoff batter to the number-nine hitter, they know any one of their teammates can deliver when the pressure is on.
They play a gritty game and win by stringing hits together, she added. Canada’s rally-fueled style of play will be essential against main rivals Japan and the United States.
“We’re ready to go and I’m so confident in this team and our abilities,” Entzminger said. “I’m going to be fired up and excited when we get out there, because it’s what we’ve been training for for many years.”
The power-hitting U.S. relies on the long ball, and Entzminger expects to be busier at third base when they face Japan’s methodical contact hitters. After mostly catching growing up, the former Victoria Devils player has found a home at third, where she loves the action at the hot corner.
“I’m a very aggressive defender,” she said, “in my mind, no one’s going to beat me so I like to challenge them and play really close.”
Entzminger was cut from the national team in 2017. At the time, she got some brutally honest criticism from her coach, who said she had taken her position for granted.
“I’m extremely grateful for that conversation looking back now, I think it’s what I needed,” she said. “I had a decision to make whether that’d be the end of my career or make a change – and I decided to make a change and come back in the best shape.”
She reclaimed her spot on the the national team in 2018.
Entzminger and her teammates are determined to make history as Canada’s first softball team to medal at the Olympics. That quest begins when the team plays its first game against Mexico on July 22.
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