Ottawa

Female baseball players 'have to work twice as hard' as men, players say

This weekend's women's baseball tournament in Ottawa showcases some of Canada's best young players in a sport the country excels at.

Ottawa hosting 21U Women's Baseball Invitational this weekend

The 2019 21U Women's Baseball Invitational is taking place in Ottawa between Aug. 1 and 4. (CBC)

Hannah Martensen wants you to know that women play baseball, and Canadian women are really, really good at it.

The former Team Canada pitcher helped organize this weekend's 21U Women's Baseball Invitational in Ottawa, showcasing some of the best young Canadian female baseball players.

The tournament, which runs until Sunday, features teams from just five of the 10 provinces — Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia — and three territories.

Martensen retired from playing just last year, but still coaches young girls.

She said many people don't realize girls play baseball, not just softball. She points out, though, that softball can earn a player a scholarship at an American college, while baseball can't.

Even more people likely don't know Canada has the second-best team in the world despite a lack of funding at the grassroots level, Martensen said. 

The world's top team, Japan, has a professional women's league.

Young women from all parts of the country are in the capital city batting and pitching in a battle to find the Canadian Under 21 Women's Baseball Champion. We talk to one of the players from Ottawa, and an organizer of the tournament. 6:39

"We have such a big country and we're so spread out that we only get together about once, maybe twice a year," said Martensen.

"I think it just goes to show that if we were to have that infrastructure to provide more opportunities and more funding to the sport then we could potentially rank first in the world."

Hannah Martensen of Ottawa played on the Canadian women's baseball team from 2011 to 2014. She retired from playing in 2018. (@HMartensen/Twitter)

Women, girls 'have to work twice as hard'

In Canada, female baseball players are often forced to play with boys and men, too.

Ottawa pitcher Tess Forman made history in the fall of 2018 when she became the first woman to play for the Carleton University men's baseball team.

Forman excelled, too, giving up just one run in more than seven innings pitched. 

She is playing this weekend for Team Ontario, along with Cornwall's Amber Flannigan.

"You just have to work twice as hard as all the boys to earn your spot on the team," said Flannigan, who plays second base.

"Once you make the plays and earn their respect, that's all that matters."

In the fall of 2018, Tess Forman became the first woman to play for the Carleton University men's baseball team. (CBC)

'Don't give up'

Some of the baseball players competing this weekend will also wear the Team Canada jersey later this month when the country tries to qualify for the Women's Baseball World Cup.

This weekend's tournament is taking place at RCGT Stadium in Ottawa. One noteworthy fact at the concession stand: you will find only vendors from companies owned by women, according to Martensen.

The gold medal game is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday.

For any young girls interested in baseball but worried about playing with boys, Flannigan wanted to send this message: "Don't give up. There are a lot of baseball opportunities out there and we're proving it this weekend."

Amber Flannigan is playing second base for Team Ontario at the 2019 21U Women's Baseball Invitational. (CBC)