Mesa sisters Taylor and Jordan Beck, 19 and 15, have made the Canadian junior national softball team and will represent the maple leaf at the ISF Junior Women’s World Championships Dec. 6-17 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Their father, Ron Beck, is a native of Vancouver, thus making them eligible for the Canadian team.
It will be the ninth edition of the quadrennial event, won by the Americans at Enshede, Netherlands, in 2007. Sixteen teams from each continent will participate, including Botswana and Zimbabwe, and the American team boasts Arizona State’s Dallas Escobedo and Peoria’s Lauren Haeger, who is headed to the University of Florida this fall. Danielle Lawrie played for Canada, which has never medaled, in Nanjing, China, in 2003.
Last December, their father was notified of the tryouts from Shanna Biggins, a fellow Canadian and coach of the Tucson Cats club team. Soon Taylor and Jordan applied for Canadian dual citizenship. They received it in May, and June 30 headed to Vancouver for the tryouts.
“Initially, when I had gotten there, I was nervous because there were a lot of returners and it would be hard to accommodate them and the new girls,” Taylor said.
They both made the first cut on July 3, and five days later the final roster of 19 was set.
“I cried – point blank,” said Ron, who left Canada for the University of Wisconsin in the early 1980s, eventually marrying an American.
“Being from Canada and representing the country I was born in is pretty special to me. We introduced them when they were six years old to sports, and they sort of gravitated towards softball.”
The Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch Gold International Championship was July 11-17 in Surrey, B.C. The Canadian national team finished second, with a 12-2 record, losing to the California Worth Firecrackers in the final, 8-7. Jordan batted an astounding .667 in 14 games during the event, while her older sister hit .320 playing third base.
“I was excited because I was the youngest player to make the team,” said Jordan, who is currently playing in the Premier Girls Fastpitch Championship in Huntington Beach, Calif., with her club team the Firecrackers.
Taylor enters her sophomore season at Division II Western Alabama University, located in Livingston, coming off a freshman campaign in which the catcher was named second team All-Gulf Coast States Conference.
“I had been to other colleges, but Western Alabama stuck out to me because it had a lot of great people and it was a change,” Taylor said. “I knew I was going to fit in well there.”
Jordan will be a sophomore catcher at Red Mountain High School, where she was honorable mention all-state and second team all-region as a freshman, as the team won the 5A1 state championship. She said she is already getting college looks from high-profile college programs such as Washington, Oregon, Alabama, Auburn, Syracuse, and New Mexico.
The previous season, while Taylor was a senior, the Mountain Lions also won the state title and she was named second team all-state and first team all-region.
As far as club softball, both played for the Killer Bees in Mesa, Taylor played for Outlaws Gold in Glendale and Cal Thunder Gold in Covina, Calif., and Jordan played for Arizona Stealth.
Ron Simpson coached them with the Arizona Desert Heat under-16 team.
“They were little studs,” Simpson said. “They’re not tall, but short and compact and have a lot of power. I knew someday they’d make something with themselves.”
Throughout all of the years of club and travel ball, this will be the first time the sisters will suit up besides each other.
“I’ve always wanted to play with my sister,” Taylor said. “When I first found out I was super proud of her. We played against each other in tryouts, and I was like, ‘Wow, she’s pretty good.’ She beat 18-and-19 year olds.”
Jordan said her older sister takes advice from her and they never fight.
“If she isn’t batting well, I give her advice,” Jordan said. “We help each other. If I see something wrong with her swing, I try to fix it.”
Even though Taylor plays catcher on her college team, Jordan will be behind the plate for the national team, while her older sister plays third base, which she played in high school.
Jordan said the team will leave for South Africa two weeks before the competition to acclimate to the weather and time difference. Because of school, they can’t really practice as a team until then.
“They just want you to stay in shape with your team,” Jordan said.
The only other American playing on the Canadian national team is Madison Schreyer of Seattle and Stanford University. The team is ranked fifth in the world behind the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Venezuela.
“We all have to work hard, and I feel we have a really good chance,” Taylor said. “We are coached by great coaches.”