VIERA, Fla. -- World Cup competition is nothing new to Team Canada veterans Ashley Stephenson and Kate Psota.Both players have competed in every Women's Baseball World Cup since 2004, and their goal is to help bring another medal back to Canada.And they may do it. Team Canada is one of
VIERA, Fla. -- World Cup competition is nothing new to Team Canada veterans Ashley Stephenson and Kate Psota.
Both players have competed in every Women's Baseball World Cup since 2004, and their goal is to help bring another medal back to Canada.
And they may do it. Team Canada is one of the favorites to medal coming into this year's World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) tournament. Team Canada has won five medals (two silver and three bronze and a Pan American Games silver medal) since 2004.
Stephenson, 35, the oldest player on the team, is a high school physical education teacher from Burlington, Ontario, near Toronto. She doesn't mine taking time off from work to play baseball.
"I love to play baseball, and as long as I can still compete, I will continue to play," she said.
• Live stream the Women's World Cup
As a child, Stephenson started playing softball in the spring and summer and then hockey in the winter. As she got older, her mother allowed her to play baseball. Now, she prefers baseball over all the other sports.
"Softball is based a lot on speed, but with baseball, you have to have a lot of tools in your toolkit to compete," she said. "I have a very strong arm and I like to show it off."
Although she grew up playing shortstop, Stephenson is playing third base in the tournament. She follows the Toronto Blue Jays, but admits her favorite baseball player is New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
"He [Jeter] was so smart as a player," she explained. "He saw things before they happened."
Stephenson cited Jeter's famous "flip play" from the 2001 American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics as an example.
"He saw the whole play unfold in front of him and he reacted to it. It was a tremendous play."
Stephenson also says her strengths are her hustle and leadership.
"We have six to eight girls who are playing in their first or second World Cup," she said. "So if I can help some of the other girls, it will make us a better team. I try to lead by example. I always hustle."
Psota, 32, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, is a buyer for a garden center, also in Burlington, Ontario. She would love to see women's baseball continue to grow and thinks the World Cup tournament is a great venue to showcase some of the best women's baseball in the world.
"I work with a lot of young girls trying to get them interested in playing," Psota said. "We train all year round. Our young kids have tons of confidence."
Psota said her favorite MLB player is Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz.
"I just loved the way he played the game," she said. "He always gave it his best."
Stephenson said she would like to see women's baseball become an Olympic sport. However, chances are slim because there are not enough countries that have teams. In fact, Stephenson says she is "really disappointed" that the women's baseball competition was dropped from the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru. Nevertheless, Stephenson says this year's WBSC tournament will be very competitive.
"There are 12 countries in the competition, and six-seven teams can easily win a medal," Stephenson said. "I am very happy the U.S. is hosting this year's tournament, because a lot of families can come and watch."
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Ernest Arico is a contributor to MLB.com.