Triple Crown action

Local team looks to capture another division title

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— Most of the more than 140 teams in this weekend's Triple Crown softball tournament will be from out of town but not all of the teams will hail from another zip code.

For the second straight year, the Pioneer Material Dawgs will take the field in pursuit of a title in the men's E division.

Local player Chris Campanelli, however, said this team's goals have more to do with having fun, than they are with winning the 58-team division.

"It beats working anytime," Campanelli said. "We just like to play softball whether it's in a tournament or in the local league."

Because most of the local adult softball leagues are off for the Fourth of July holiday this week, the members of the Dawgs will have to fill the softball void at the annual Triple Crown tournament.

The organization's Fourth of July leg will begin Thursday night with an all-star game featuring 40 of the top adult softball players from around the state. Actual tournament play will begin Friday morning when the teams begin play in seven different divisions. The tournament will run from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. all three days.

For the last 20 years the tournament has been a part of the Fourth of July week and Triple Crown's Patty Harsch said the event has become a tradition for a lot of Colorado teams.

'This is always a big one," Harsch said. "Teams like to come to Steamboat to play softball and celebrate the holiday."

The tournament is also popular because it schedules coed games in a way that allows players to compete for more than one team. Players can compete either on a men's or women's team and also still find time to take the field for a coed contest.

The event is the fourth and final leg of Triple Crown's World Series qualifying series. Other tournaments were held in Arvada, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins earlier this year.

Harsch said teams finishing in the top-three this week will be invited back Aug. 15-18 for the Triple Crown Summer World Series. The top-four teams will qualify to play in the Triple Crown Fall National Championship, which take place in October in St. Augustine, Fla.

Campanelli said this weekend is a great opportunity for his team to play in a quality tournament without having to travel to another town.

"Most of the players on our team own their own businesses, so they can find the time to get away from work and play," he said.

The team, which has won its division in the local adult league the past couple of seasons, will pick up a few extra players from other teams to help fill in a few gaps and cover the team in case players get injured.

Campanelli knows all too well how an injury can result in a short tournament run. Last year he tore the ligaments in his ankle in the Dawg's first game of the tournament.

Campanelli said the team would begin Friday. However, exact game times have not been released. The tournament will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Steamboat, Hayden and Oak Creek. Harsch said the organizers would not be using the fields in Craig this week.

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