Southern Alberta Newspapers
It’s the end of the third inning and K of C Knights catcher Reece Whelen was at bat, so someone needs to warm up the pitcher while he gets his gear on.
The backup catcher strolls out, blonde ponytail blowing behind her.
Nobody thinks anything of it.
For years this has been the norm for Redcliff’s Kaitlyn Ross — playing with the boys — but pretty soon it’s going to end. Ross made the cut for Canada’s women’s baseball team a couple of weeks ago, keeping her playing the game she loves for now. But with her hockey prospects blossoming and nowhere to play college baseball as a female, she seems to know the writing’s on the wall.
“I’ve thought about university, not sure where,” said the 17-year-old Tuesday. “I might be leaning towards hockey but I’ve got to keep all my options open.”
A goaltender for the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan, Ross went 12-5 with an impressive 2.04 goals against average and .936 save percentage last season. She’ll enter her Grade 12 season looking to build on that and potentially get some offers to play post-secondary.
She’s no slouch at baseball, either. In July 17’s second Knights game against Lethbridge she caught, went 1-for-3 at the plate and threw out one of two would-be base stealers. The Knights lost but Ross has proven she can still contribute at an age where most girls can no longer physically compete with their male counterparts.
“I need to hold myself to a higher standard, stay hard on myself so I keep my level of performance,” she said. “I’ve got to keep playing.”
Prior to the Canadian women’s camp, Ross helped Alberta to a bronze-medal finish at the national Women’s Invitational Championships, also held in Montreal. She batted .273 in seven games, driving in five runs. Alberta beat Quebec 3-1 July 8 in the third-place game.
There are a couple 16-year-olds who also made Team Canada’s roster for the Women’s Baseball World Cup in Florida next month, but she’s still among the youngest on the squad. After playing a series of exhibition games with the national team in Washington, D.C. last summer — the World Cup only takes place every second year — it’ll be a big deal to put on the Canada jersey when the tournament starts Aug. 22.
“I’m pumped, I’m so excited,” said Ross of making the cut down to 20 players after a four-day camp in Montreal. “I definitely thought I belonged, but I still had to work for my spot. So I needed to grind that out, really battle for it.”
She’s among seven teenagers on the roster, with the oldest player being 32-year-old Kate Psota of Burlington, Ont. Canada finished second behind Japan two years ago in Korea. They’ll open against Hong Kong and also play round robin games against Cuba, Japan, Australia and the Dominican Republic.
“Selection camp was very competitive making final roster decisions extremely challenging for our coaching staff,” national team manager André Lachance said in a press release. “With that said, we’re very pleased with the combination of veterans and youth players that will compete at the world cup.
“Traditionally, we’ve always performed well at the World Cup and the expectation is once again be in the mix for a medal in Florida.”
This will be the eighth World Cup, with Lachance at the helm for each of them since the national team was formed in 2004. On Tuesday he announced this will be his last time at the helm.
For Ross, it’s the first, and maybe also the last depending on what happens with her hockey career.
What’s she most excited about?
“Probably just being able to wear (a Canadian jersey), represent it well.”
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