For the first time in more than two decades, an all-girls team from Alberta will compete at the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, N.C. — kicking off their opening game on Tuesday night.
Aged 13 and under, the St. Albert Angels will represent Canada in a game against a team from the Philippines on Aug. 9.
"We have to prove ourselves every single game," said Ella Stranaghan, a 13-year-old pitcher for the Angels.
The U13 St. Albert team won gold at the Canada Little League Softball Championships over the Heritage Day weekend in Victoria, B.C. With an undefeated track record for every game at nationals, the team managed to snag a final spot in the global tournament.
According to the Little League Softball World Series, the St. Albert group is the first Alberta team to play for the global title since 2000, when Calgary's Sunridge Little League competed.
"It's kind of overwhelming," Stranaghan said.
Stranaghan said she was inspired to try softball less than a year ago, after watching many videos of the game online.
But when Stranaghan tried to talk about the sport at school, she said boys in her class would often taunt her by saying, "that's not a real sport."
Stranaghan said being chosen to play for Canada internationally was gratifying — convincing her and her teammates that girls have a place in competitive sports.
She said she still can't believe she will be competing at the event she used to watch for hours.
"We're representing all of Canada. It's huge for everyone," she said.
"It just kind of shows you that you can go somewhere with this."
For head coach Dianna Jordison, the world championship event will mark her international debut.
"I'm hoping that it opens the doors and lets other teams know that this is a possibility, so that we can get bigger competition within Little League in Canada," she said.
"You can build dreams out of this and have goals and aspire to have a future in sport."
According to Jordison, players and softball fans wish the championship event would be live-streamed across Canada, like the boys' tournament.
The St. Albert Angels will play a team from the Philippines at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Little League Softball World Series runs until Aug. 15.