Kennaley hits Cuba for sun, sand and… baseball

Burlington’s Kathryn Kennaley is among 25 Bantam Girls who are getting a head start on the 2012 baseball season.

The 20-year-old Kennaley and her teammates arrived in Cuba on Tuesday (Feb. 21) to compete in a friendly international series. The trip, for girls aged 14-20, will focus on developing baseball skills along with gaining a cultural experience both on and off the baseball field.

“I’m looking at this trip as a chance to see young talent that we have across this country and use this as a development camp for future editions of the Women’s National Team,” said André Lachance, head coach of the Women’s National Team. This is the third consecutive year for the visit which has served as a stepping stone for players who have gone on to play for the National Team while providing athletes a taste of international competition.

Kennaley, a pitcher and infielder, has played for Team Ontario in various tournaments. She is a graduate of MM Robinson High School and played for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s fastpitch team in Ontario University Athletics.

The players will be divided into Canada Red and Canada White and will play one game per day during the week-long trip.

Off the field, players will be involved in cultural activities that include visiting historic Old Havana and participating in traditional Cuban dance. A trip to a Cuban orphanage to do some humanitarian work is also on the agenda. “We want the girls to have an experience outside of just baseball,” explained Lachance. “The goal of the trip is to develop as baseball players but also to grow as individuals and experience something that they would not normally get to do.”

Kennaley is travelling to Cuba for the first time and is excited about what the experience will bring.

“I’ve been told that the trip is a balance of both baseball and experiencing the Cuban culture,” said Kennaley. “I’m really looking forward to visiting the sites around Havana when we aren’t playing.”

With Cuba being a baseball hotbed, Kathryn is also looking forward to the opportunity to play against some quality competition and learning from the National Team coaches on a daily basis.

“I think being in a country and around people for whom there is a passion for baseball will allow me to learn a few things I might not be used to seeing here in Canada,” she explained. “Also, I think the opportunity to play with the National Team coaches will help improve my baseball skills.”
Kennaley was a member of the 2011 Ontario provincial squad that won silver at the Senior Women Invitational last summer. She looks to gain on that experience while in Cuba in hopes of achieving her goal of playing for the National Team.

“I’m excited at the prospect of combining a trip outside North America with playing baseball. I would also love to someday play for Team Canada and participate in a World Cup.”

The Bantam Girls trip to Cuba unofficially kicks-off the season for the Women’s National Team program as they prepare for the upcoming IBAF Women’s World Cup which gets underway on August 10th in Edmonton.

Game scores and updates from the Bantam Girls trip to Cuba can be viewed on twitter: