Steamboat Springs A Steamboat Springs summer staple is back.
This weekend's bracketed, double-elimination youth baseball championships mark the beginning of Triple Crown Sports' World Series tournament play.
"With 350 teams from 28 states over the three-week period, this is the largest Triple Crown has ever been in Steamboat -- for the 11 years we've been up there," said Keri King, event coordinator for the Omaha Baseball Tournament and son of Triple Crown Sports founder Dave King.
Dave King, a Meeker native who in 1983 looked to coordinate a "triple crown" of three softball tournaments between Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat, created what has become an international sports event organization that franchises local tournaments across the country.
Triple Crown Sports is based in Fort Collins.
Teams must first qualify for Triple Crown regional tournaments such as Keri King's Omaha tournament before being selected to play in "destination" national championships such as this weekend's.
Sunday's championship games (all games are at Howelsen Hill)* 15-and-under 2 p.m., Simillion field* 13-and-under 2:30 p.m., Vanatta field* 10-and-under (Division 1), 11 a.m., Vanatta field* 10-and-under (Division 2), 3 p.m., Klumker field
World Series co-director Thad Anderson said that of the 4,000 teams participating in regional and local qualifying tournaments nationwide, only a small percentage of premier teams are selected for national series play.
This weekend's tournaments, played on fields across Steamboat, Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig, will decide the national champions in three age categories -- 10-and-under, 13-and-under and 15-and-under.
After Tuesday's parade of teams and skills competitions, pool play began to determine playoff seeding.
With 55 teams in the 10-and-under category, the results of initial pool play determined how the teams were divided into separate upper- and lower-tiered divisions for playoff brackets that began Thursday.
Playoff rounds began Friday for the 10-team 15's division and the 34-team 13's division.
With each team guaranteed five games, tournament play continues Sunday with consolation games and the championship games at the Howelsen Hill fields.
Anderson encouraged fans to show up for the championship games at Vanatta field.
He said those games will be televised by Altitude Sports & Entertainment on a tape delay.