Tonya Guldbrandsen (left to right), Jackie Bates and Tina Guldbrandsen helped Team Canada win gold at the inaugural Border Battle in Oklahoma City. The Langley trio were part of the first-ever Canadian women’s national slo-pitch team. Submitted photo

Langley women golden at Border Battle

Tina and Tonya Guldbrandsen and Jackie Bates help Canada take down U.S.

A trio of Langley women helped make history.

At the inaugural women’s Border Battle against the United States in Oklahoma City, the Canadian women’s slo-pitch team went a perfect 4-0 to claim top spot at the tournament, which ran June 28 to July 1.

This was the first time Canada has fielded a women’s national slo-pitch team.

Jackie Bates belted a two-run home run, part of a three-RBI game, as Canada won 12-8 in the final game on July 1.

It capped off a fantastic four games for the 32-year-old who had a .588 batting average, a 1.588 slugging percentage and a team-leading five home runs and 15 RBIs in 19 plate appearances. She was one of just two Canadian players to reach double digits in RBIs.

Tina Guldbrandsen, 25, and her sister, 23-year-old Tonya, were the two youngest players on Team Canada. But they proved they belonged with Tonya batting .455 with an .818 slugging percentage and five RBIs and five runs scored.

Tina hit .429 while scoring three times and driving in one run.

Bates, long known for her bat — she was named most valuable player at last summer’s Canadian national championships after batting .800 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in helping BC Adrenaline win the women’s national title — downplayed her success at the plate.

“I think it is pitch selection and a lot of experience,” she said. “I have a plan every time I get in that batter’s box and it’s not always about power.

“But if given an opportunity to hit a home run, I will always try.”

While the results were nice, all three women — who are teammates with the Adrenaline women’s slo-pitch team and with the BC Legends, a Langley mixed slo-pitch team — expressed honour and pride in the fact they were chosen to play for their country.

“I am almost still in shock that I got an opportunity,” Tina Guldbrandsen admitted. “Being asked (to represent your country) is very humbling.”

“Grateful to have shared the field with such an amazing group of girls and make our country proud,” her sister added.

“Also beyond lucky to have shared such an amazing and surreal experience with my sister/best friend by my side.”

“I think every athlete dreams of playing for their country (and) to be able to do that at the highest level possible was amazing,” Bates said.

“The energy in the stadium was surreal; it was the highlight of my softball career.”

“(And) I think it’s important to mention that the team selected ws amazing, having never played together until our first game,” she added. “We really came together and worked hard for one another; withouth that, we would not have won.”

All three women grew up playing fastpitch before switching to slo-pitch about six or seven years ago.

Bates, who grew up in the South Surrey/White Rock area and graduated from Elgin Park Secondary.

She had played of the White Rock Renegades program before playing college ball in Florida and Georgia.

Bates transitioned into slo-pitch, first at the recreational level but then quickly getting into the competitive stream, and she plays on both sides of the border: in Langley with BC Adrenaline and then in the U.S. with the Derby Girls.

The Guldbrandsen sisters grew up in Port Moody and played fastpitch for the Delta Heat program. They moved to Langley in their late teenage years and graduated from Clayton Heights Secondary.

And much like Bates, they joined the Langley Mixed Slo-Pitch League for recreational purposes, before quickly moving up to the competitive ranks.

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