Lauren Bay Regula: Canada's softball ace
Lauren Bay Regula isn’t one to toot her own horn. In fact, Bay Regula will only go so far as to describe herself as "the veteran of the staff" on a Canadian Olympic Women’s softball team that will include 11 first-time Olympians.
While she may be a veteran, the Trail, B.C., native -- who turned 27 on August 9, three days before Canada opens the Olympic tournament against Chinese Taipei -- brings so much more than just a veteran presence to the table.
She is one of the world’s top softball pitchers and is the undisputed ace of the Canadian staff. Although she won’t admit it, a significant part of the Canadian team’s medal hopes in Beijing are tied directly to her left arm.
"I feel good enough to carry the load," Bay Regula sings down the phone line from Vancouver where she and her mates are tuning up for the Olympics. "But it won’t be like last time where I had to."
Posts ERA of 0.41
Last time was the 2004 Athens Olympics when Canada placed fifth, narrowly missing the medal round. In that tournament, Bay Regula was the winning pitcher in all three of Canada’s wins. She was also the loser in two of the team’s four losses setbacks, one of them a hard luck 1-0 defeat to the eventual silver medalists from Australia. Those five appearances covered 17 innings during which she struck out 36 batters and posted an earned-run average of 0.41.
Despite her personal success, Bay Regula considers the team’s performance in Athens "disappointing."
"We had a Top-four finish in sight," she laments, "but we lost to Greece when we shouldn’t have looked past them."
This time around, she’s convinced things will be different. For one thing, the pitching staff is deeper and considered to be one of the best in the world. Instead of being the team’s only go-to arm, Bay Regula will form a solid 1-2 punch with Danielle Lawrie of Langley, B.C. Coming in behind them will be Robin Mackin of Newmarket, Ont., and Dione Meier of Saskatoon.
It’s a good thing that Canada’s pitching is so deep for Beijing. Bay Regula is coming back from a serious wrist injury that kept her out of the circle for all of 2007. The tendon strain was so bad that it almost made her quit, although she’s clearly glad she didn’t.
Good shot at the podium
"This is by far the best team we’ve had since I’ve been around," she explained. "I’d have kicked myself if I’d quit before this year. We have a legitimate shot at the podium."
One thing that has come with experience – and injury – is that Bay Regula has become a pitcher rather than a thrower. She now tries to change speeds and work the strike zone more.
"I’m just looking to make a good pitch," she explained. "I rely on my defence now as much as I rely on striking people out."
A member of Canada’s senior national team since 2002, Bay Regula has an impressive résumé.
She attended Oklahoma State University on a softball scholarship. Not only did she graduate in 2004 with a degree in international business, but she also left as the best pitcher in the school’s history. That’s saying something as Australian great and four-time Olympian Melanie Roche also pitched at OSU. Bay Regula holds all-time Oklahoma State records for most career strikeouts, starts, appearances, innings pitched, complete games and saves.
During her time as a "Cowgirl," she was named to the all-conference team four times, made all-Midwest region three times and was twice named an Academic All-American. She culminated her great college career by being named the 2003 OSU Student Athlete of the Year and NCAA Woman of the Year for the State of Oklahoma in addition to being picked as a 1st Team All American and named the Big 12 Conference’s Player of the Year.
And that was just her college career.
Pitching internationally 10 years
Bay Regula has been zipping fastballs past hitters on the international scene since making her first appearance at the 1998 Canada Cup with her club team the White Rock Renegades. She followed that with her first national team appearance at the 1999 Junior Women’s World Softball Championships in Taiwan.
Since then, she’s been a mainstay of the Canadian team, playing in both the 2002 Worlds in Saskatoon and the 2006 event in Beijing as well as numerous other international competitions.
She also spent two years (2005 and 2006) playing in the National Pro Fastpitch League in the United States, compiling a record of 17-2 with an ERA of 0.91. Her 2005 season with the Chicago Bandits was so good, in fact, that she was named co-pitcher of the year along with teammate and U.S. softball superstar, Jennie Finch.
It’s no wonder Bay Regula has had such sporting success. Her great uncle, Gerry Moro, competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and again in Munich 1972 as a decathlete. Her older brother is Jason Bay, now with the Boston Red Sox, National League Rookie of the Year in 2004. Her husband, Chicago-based commodities trader David Regula, was a place kicker for the Ivy League’s Dartmouth College, graduating as the second-leading scorer in school history.
All are justifiably proud of her. Jason, who has represented Canada at the 1990 Little League World Series, played for the 1996 Junior Olympic Team and, most recently, in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, lauded her softball exploits.
"It’s always an honour to represent your country in any event," he admitted. "But doing so in the Olympics is above and beyond. I’m sure Lauren will do a great job. Our entire family is looking forward to watching her."
So is the rest of Canada.