Thousands of young ball players and their families will come to Steamboat Springs this summer driven by a love for the game.
The first 140 will arrive at the Howelsen Hill ball fields Tuesday when Triple Crown Sports hosts a three-day girls fastpitch camp. The first tournament, the Mountain Magic, will run June 12-15.
"This is our big kickoff for the summer," said Bill Piltcher, director of girls fastpitch softball for Triple Crown. "We have 75 teams coming for the first tournament and 140 players and 30 coaches coming for the school."
Sean Hardy, the director of team sports for Triple Crown, said the rest of the summer will be filled with plenty of baseball and softball events for adults and youth.
The first weekend of baseball will step to the plate June 19-22 when Division II players come to town.
Hardy said 80 teams would come to compete in the 10-, 13- and 14-year-old division.
"This is the weekend most of the local teams will compete," Hardy said.
From June 26-29, the action will pick up a notch as Division I players arrive in Steamboat. Hardy expects 60 teams to be in town for the event.
Triple Crown's annual Fourth of July tournament will be the first of two slowpitch events this summer and is expected to be full with 140 adult teams.
Youth baseball will take center stage in July. The Triple Crown World Series will open with the first of three weekends of baseball from July 23-27. Ninety teams will play in the 9-, 12-, 15- and 16-year-old divisions. The next weekend, July 30-Aug. 3, 60 teams will play in the 10-, 14- and 18-year-old brackets.
Hardy expects 90 teams for the final weekend of baseball Aug. 6-10. The action will include 11- and 13-year-old baseball teams from across the country.
In the past, Triple Crown held its baseball World Series over two weekends and held a girls fastpitch weekend on the other. This year, however, the girls tournament was moved out of Steamboat.
"The girls softball championships moved to Park City, Utah, which allowed us to expand to three weekends of baseball this year," Hardy said. "There will be fewer teams in Steamboat on some weekends, which will allow us to grow in the future."
Moving girls fastpitch to Park City was something the company needed to do so that both events could expand in the future, he said.
"Before we did it, we were maxed out on baseball," Hardy said. "We couldn't allow for more teams or (make concessions for) weather."
Steamboat is expected to see 45 fewer teams than last year on the first Triple Crown weekend and up to 50 fewer teams the second and third weekends. But Hardy was quick to point out that over the three-week stretch, more baseball teams will come to Steamboat, but there will be fewer girls softball teams.
Triple Crown expects the numbers to increase over the next several years.
This year's Triple Crown run will come to an end Aug 13-17 when the Triple Crown softball championships come to town. That event will include about 100 adult softball teams.
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