Steamboat Springs For many years fireworks, parades, rodeos and softball have been a part of the Fourth of July celebration in Steamboat Springs.
This year, the party will start a little early as Triple Crown Sports and 145 adult softball teams roll into town for a three-day tournament June 29-July 1.
"It's a little odd," Triple Crown organizer Patty Harsch said of the timing of the event. "But we need three days to hold a tournament of this size."
Harsch said most teams knew about the dates for this year's tournament in plenty of time to make arrangements to get Friday off work. She added the tournament was probably impacted by the timing of the Fourth of July holiday, but it filled to capacity anyway.
"It may have taken a little longer to fill, but teams started calling about this one in September," Harsch said.
The Steamboat Springs leg of the Triple Crown Softball Series is the most popular slowpitch event in the state of Colorado, Harsch said. The second leg of the series, held on Memorial Day in Fort Collins, is a close second. It draws 124 total teams, but Steamboat's traditional holiday event is still a favorite among teams in Colorado.
Harsch said the Steamboat tournament would be even larger if not for the limited field space in the area. As it is Triple Crown currently uses fields in Steamboat Springs, Craig, Hayden and Oak Creek to host all the slow-pitch teams that come to Steamboat.
This year Steamboat will be the third and final leg of the Triple Crown series, which started back in April with a pair of first-leg events. One was held in Denver and the other was held in Colorado Springs. Fort Collins was the second leg, and the state champions will be crowned following this weekend's action in Steamboat, which is the final leg. Teams vying for the state title must have played in all three of the legs of the series.
"All of the top teams are going to be in Steamboat," Harsch said. "They have to be if they want the state title."
In the men's class C division, points leaders include webflyer.com and Team Reflex, who are currently tied for the lead.
Big 10 out of Denver will be looking to put a lock on the men's class D title and AEi out of Lakewood will continue its drive for the crown in men's class E.
In the coed classes, the team to watch will be BBC out of Aurora in the lower division and Power, also of Aurora, in the coed upper division.
The favorite to win the women's upper division is Pitchers out of Fort Collins and Ruckus, a team from the Windsor area, is currently leading the pack in the women's lower division.
Teams playing this weekend will also be battling for a spot to the Adult Softball World Finals in Steamboat Aug. 16-26. The top 3 teams in each division will be invited back for that event. Berths to the fall finals in Florida and the spring finals in Nevada are also at stake.
In addition to the battles for the top team titles, this weekend's slowpitch softball tournament will also feature an all-star game pitting the best players in the state against one another in a game on Saturday night.
The women's game will take place on Adams at 8 p.m. The men's game will take place at 9:05 p.m.
Harsch said the all-star game is a new idea, but it has been well received as teams rush to get pregame voting ballets in before this weekend.
"We gave teams ballots and they get to vote on who they think the top players in the state are," Harsch said. "That's who will be playing on Saturday."
After the votes are counted, the top 30 men and the top 30 women in the state will be selected to play in the games. Those players will be split into two men's teams and two women's teams for the games.
"It should be a lot of fun," Harsch said.