150 teams expected for softball tournament

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— When it comes to venues for adult slowpitch softball tournaments, it's hard to beat Steamboat Springs during the July Fourth holiday.

"Everybody who is anybody in the sport of softball in Colorado comes to Steamboat Springs for this one," Triple Crown's Patty Harsch said. "It's not as prestigious as the national finals, but as far as softball goes, this is a big tournament."

Harsch said the majority of the 150--plus teams playing this weekend will come from Colorado. However, the tournament is starting to draw teams from out of the state that are looking for national berths as well as a fun, well-run tournament.

Harsch said the tournament has built a reputation for being one of the best in the country.

"It's just a good time," Harsch said. "I think everyone who comes to Steamboat has fun. Not just the players, but also our staff and the umpires who work the games."

While most of the players will be filling hotel rooms this weekend, more than a few call Steamboat Springs and Craig home.

Longtime Steamboat Springs resident Chris Ward will enter his team, the Ball Busters, in this year's tournament.

It's the first time Ward and the Ball Busters have entered a Triple Crown event in more than 10 years. The last time Ward played, his team finished second at the world championships in Steamboat Springs.

Ward wasn't thinking about national titles when he put this year's Ball Busters together. He just wanted to form a team to play in the local adult softball league.

That team, plus a few additional players, is hoping to be competitive in the men's C division in this year's tournament. If the team plays its best Ward wouldn't be surprised to be

vying for a title on Sunday. But he knows that for any team to win a title, things have to come together.

"We've got different players," Ward said. "But the team's goal is still the same."

Ward decided to play in the men's C league because there are fewer teams than in the men's E and men's D divisions.

He knows the level of play will be higher, but he thinks his team has what it takes to play in the upper division.

The Ball Busters will not be the only area teams playing this weekend. Steamboat's B&K/ Michelob will take to the field in the men's E division. The team is a combination of players from the Pioneer Material Dawgs and the Steamboat Blue.

"This is a great tournament," player Sean Hicks said. "You get to play a lot of games in a short period of time and most of the teams that come here, come to win."

Craig will be represented by JABT and Low Profile in the men's E division. JABT also will enter a team in the mixed division.

Play in the men's D and men's E divisions is scheduled to begin Friday morning along with play in the women's upper, women's lower and coed divisions.

The men's C division, which has fewer teams, may wait until Saturday to begin play. The official Triple Crown schedule will not be announced until later this week, but game times will be posted at Howelsen Hill Thursday evening.

The tournament is a straight double elimination format with the winners advancing to Sunday's finals.


--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or

e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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