Ball strikes out

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:43 PM ET

It's tough to play ball with your hands tied.

But that's the situation Canada's national women's softball team is facing after the International Olympic Committee decided late Thursday to drop the sport from the summer program.

The national-team players were upset when they heard the news, said Calgary's Sheena Lawrick last night, before playing the Canada Cup semifinal against Australia in Surrey, B.C.

"Right now we have to stay focused on our goal for here at the Canada Cup and for 2008 at the Beijing Summer Games," said the 22-year-old utility infielder.

"Whatever happens in 2012 happens then. We have to stay focused on right now."

The IOC held a vote at its meetings in Singapore, putting all 28 summer sports on the table. In the secret vote, only baseball and softball failed to receive the majority required to stay. Softball, a women's-only medal sport since 1996, has been in danger because of a perceived lack of global appeal and participation.

But that logic doesn't sit well with Lawrick, who played at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"Every year, we've had eight great teams for eight great countries who represent themselves very well," she said.

"I don't know what other kind of countries they're looking for but the ones they have now are great. The competition between all of us has been really good."

Softball Canada president Kevin Quinn said in a statement the decision is most unwelcome.

"It's played by over 100 countries worldwide," Quinn said. "Attendance and television coverage has been very good, putting softball in the upper echelon of women's sports."

However, IOC president Jacques Rogge said both baseball and softball are eligible to win their way back into the Olympics for 2016.

Quinn said he is sure the International Softball Federation will stay on top of the decision and work hard to get back softball's Olympic status. And he's encouraged by the sport's growth on the homefront.

"While this decision is very disappointing, the fact of the matter is that softball is alive and well in Canada with over 250,000 participants," he said.


Videos

Photos