Softball Canada has named its women's team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©Softball Canada

Softball Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have nominated Canada’s women’s team for the re-arranged Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

The 15 athletes were selected by Softball Canada’s coaching staff.

Canada qualified for Tokyo 2020 at the 2019 WBSC Softball Americas Qualifier held in Surrey, British Colombia by finishing in the top two of the 12-team event along with Mexico.

"There is no greater privilege than to wear Canada across your chest and represent the most amazing country and fans," said catcher Kaleigh Rafter.

"For me, this is the last step in a 14-year journey that dates back to 2007.

"I want to give a big thank you to my family who has supported this dream of mine since the very beginning.

"I would also like to thank Softball Canada for their support of this team since it was removed from the Olympic programme.

"Without their commitment, we would not be in the position we are in today.”

Softball returns to the Olympic Games after being left off at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

But it will be missing again at Paris 2024 after failing to be included by French organisers. 

Canada narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish the last time the sport appeared in the Olympics at Beijing 2008. 

Canada is ranked third in the WBSC Women’s Softball World Rankings and has won three bronze medals over the last five WBSC World Championships, including back-to-back bronze medals in 2016 and 2018.

The team won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and captured silver medals at Guadalajara 2011 and Lima 2019.

"The naming of the Olympic roster is another phase completed in our 2021 gold medal mission," said pitcher Sara Groenewegen.

"I am excited for the opportunity to represent Canada with the 14 other women named to the team.

"It takes a village to prepare for the Olympic Games, and even though 15 women were named to this roster, there were countless other people involved to prepare us for this moment.

"We are excited and ready for the chance to make history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

Softball is due to take place July 22 to July 27 at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium and the Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

The athletes nominated are Jenna Caira, Emma Entzminger, Larissa Franklin, Jennifer Gilbert, Sara Groenewegen, Kelsey Harshman, Victoria Hayward, Danielle Lawrie, Janet Leung, Joey Lye, Erika Polidori, Kaleigh Rafter, Lauren Regula, Jennifer Salling, Natalie Wideman.

The three alternates are: Karissa Hovinga, Callum Pilgrim and Morgan Rackel.

Ccaches nominated are: Mark Smith, Lonnie Alameda, Melissa Basilio and Chris Jones.

"I have a soft spot in my heart for our Olympic softball team," said Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Marnie McBean.

"In 2008, when I was beginning my mentoring journey I spent a lot of time with the team.

"I learned a lot from their sport culture about team responsibilities and moving beyond obstacles.

"I can’t wait to see, support, and I’m sure, learn from our Olympic team."