The Canadian women’s softball team cracked a 32-year gold-medal drought at the Pan-Am Games, while at the same time ending the American’s streak of seven golds in a row.
Representing her country on the world’s stage, Dalmeny’s Megan Gurski, 21, originally from Saskatoon, found it difficult to put her excitement into words, even 48 hours after the landmark victory.
“When we were celebrating (after the final out) it was so unbelievable, to this day we’re all still … we just can’t believe it, it was an amazing experience,” Gurski said back in her home in Dalmeny, 26 kilometers north of Saskatoon.
Before the first pitch, Gurski said the team got an unexpected visit and pep-talk from one of the women who played on the 1983 Pam-Am team when Canada won its last gold medal.
“She came and talked to us and we all got to touch her gold medal … once we saw that we said to ourselves ‘we need to do it right now and especially because we had an advantage with our home crowd,’” Gurski said. “And we were so happy to do that and win in front of a home town crowd.”
Megan Gurski of Dalmeny, Sask.. Photo courtesy of Softball Canada
All the excitement from the dugout translated to a strong performance on the diamond as both the American and Canadian teams shut each other down through the first seven innings, sending the game to extra innings.
That’s when the Canadian bats started connecting.
Due to international rules, the Canadians started the top of the eighth with a runner on second base. Natalie Wideman led off the inning with what should’ve been a routine fly ball, but American shortstop Kellie Fox lost it in the sun.
Gurski said the error sparked the team giving them the momentum they needed to build on a lead.
“After that we said let’s use that and hammer on them,” Gurski said recapping the game.
Three batters later, Joey Lye singled home Canada’s first two runs of the afternoon.
After Kaleigh Rafter was intentionally walked to load the bases, Jennifer Salling’s sacrifice fly scored Jenn Yee. Erika Polidori followed up with an RBI single giving the Canadians a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the eighth.
“Once we got four runs in the eighth we were so excited but said ‘hey isn’t over we still have to get three outs.’ The whole time we were yelling on the bench making sure we got the defense back.”
The Americans added a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth, but could not complete the comeback.
Gurski, who started playing softball at the age of five, is over the moon with the experience at the Pan-Am Games and her gold medal.
She now plans on teaching young athletes in the Dalmeny and Saskatoon area while continuing to train with the Saskatoon Tigers who are coming of a Senior C Women’s Provincial Championship.
The Canadian Women’s Softball Gold Medal win comes just a week after the Canadian Men’s team won the gold medal in softball, followed by the Canadian Men’s Fastball team also claiming the gold medal.
– With files from the Canadian Press
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