Healey getting oriented with national women’s team

Teen from Paradise leaves today for Japan and the World Cup

Kenn Oliver koliver@thetelegram.com
Published on August 23, 2014
Heather Healey of Paradise is shown working out with the Canadian women’s baseball team in Surrey, B.C., this week. The 17-year-old Healey and her Canadian teammates leave today for Miyazaki, Japan, where they will compete in the Women’s Baseball World Cup, beginning next week.
Photo by Alexis Brudnicki/Baseball Canada

Following her performance at the 2014 senior women’s invitational baseball championships in Surrey, B.C., last weekend, Paradise’s Heather Healey wasn’t feeling too positive about her chances of making the national women’s team.

It wasn’t that Healey was terrible in the four games she played with Team Nova Scotia. She was three-for-six at the plate, scoring once and picking up a pair of walks.

On the mound, where Healey truly shines, she pitched two scoreless innings against a tough British Columbia squad that went on to win the bronze medal, but things fell  apart in her third inning of work, which saw her lit up for six earned runs on eight hits and five walks.

Nova Scotia lost 13-1.

“I had an arm problem that came up in June where I had a bit of tendonitis. Coming down here, my arm was a little bit sore,” she said.

“In third inning, it was just hanging, so I didn’t do quite as well as I expected.”

Apparently the pitching hiccup didn’t worry Team Canada head coach Andre Lachance, who chose the 17-year-old Healey for the national women’s team that’s headed to the Women’s Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki, Japan next week.

“I wasn’t expecting to get picked up because there were a lot of pitchers who performed really this weekend,” she said.

“The coach said my first two innings were perfect ... I guess he thought I would be the best fit for the team.”

Before leaving for Japan this morning, the women’s team held a brief camp in B.C., where former Toronto Blue Jays slugger Shawn Green and Hall of Fame second baseman Robert Alomar shared some knowledge and tips.

In addition to throwing batting practice and working with some of the players, the former major leaguers also offered the team some mental tips on being ready to play in front of the sort of crowds they’re likely to experience in Japan, where 20,000 people are expected to attend each game.

“I’ve never played in front of that many people, so it is a little bit overwhelming and nerve-wracking thinking about it,” Healey says. “But I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

How much action Healey sees on the mound will depend largely on how her arm is feeling. At 17, she’s realistic about much she expects to be called on.

“I’d say most of the older girls and veterans will get most of the playing time, but I expect to get a couple of innings.”

Healey isn’t the youngest player on the team — Surrey’s Claire Eccles holds that honour by four months — but she’s one of only four players 20 or under on the roster.

Healey’s two roommates — Saskatchewan’s Bradi Wall, 23, and Quebec’s Vanessa Riopel, 24 — have done their best to help her settle in.

“They’re great. They did my laundry yesterday,” she laughs. “They’re looking after me.”

Once in Japan on Saturday, the women’s team will hold a five-day training camp in Tokyo and play a four-game exhibition series before the World Cup opener against the Netherlands on Sept. 1

Canada has won four medals — one silver, three bronze — in five appearances at the event.

koliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @telykenn