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Surrey, B.C. – Canada has finalized its 2018 national team roster that will compete in the upcoming Canada Cup International Softball Championship July 13-22 at Softball City in Surrey. Central to the team’s success will be Toronto’s own Jenna Caira.

Caira has experienced a great deal of success at the collegiate level, spending four years at Syracuse where she became the first pitcher in Big East history to reach the one-thousand strike out mark. She is also the school’s all-time leader in most pitching categories and as team captain in 2012, was named an All-American. Caira first joined the national team in 2009 and has competed in three world championships and two Pan American championships, retiring after winning gold at the 2015 Pan American Games.

After a year and a half from the game to pursue a career, Caira says the break was the best thing that could have happened.

“When I left the game, I was burned out – but the time off allowed me to reflect and have a deeper appreciation for the team and program,” said Caira. “It also helped me break away from hard core training and allowed my body to recover in ways I hadn’t allowed it to in the past.”

Caira doesn’t hide the bond that unites the current national squad – and it is that bond she hopes will translate into success on the field, and ultimately a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo Japan.

“A strength of this team is that the core group has been together since 2009. We have grown and matured together – and as much as my teammates are tremendously skilled and talented, they are truly wonderful people,” said Caira. “The entire team understands we have a two-year commitment in front of us and we are committed to work, make sacrifices and support each other.”

As for the upcoming Canada Cup, Caira says while it is an important challenge for the team, she can’t help but have an emotional attachment.

“I was 15 years old when I participated in my first Canada Cup in 2009. I remember the feeling of being in awe and to this day the tournament remains special to me,” said Caira. “We also understand the Canada Cup is a community effort and that gives us an extra sense of pride because we know what it takes to host an event of this nature.”

The Canada Cup tournament will host an estimated 1,200 elite athletes spanning five divisions: Women’s international, Futures Gold (U19), Futures Select (U19), Showcase Gold (16U) and Showcase Select (16U).

“The fact that almost half of this year’s national team hails from British Columbia says a great deal about the quality of softball players emerging from this province,” said Canada Cup Chairman Greg Timm. “Even more significant is that this squad, with a core nucleus from BC will be working, training and playing together to achieve a berth in the 2020 Olympics.”