Fourth of July special

Adult slow-pitch softball tournament in its 22nd year

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— The relationship between Steamboat Springs and Triple Crown Sports began 22 years ago with the annual Fourth of July slow-pitch softball tournament.

"It wasn't the first ever (tournament), but the first year we started, it was in the mix," Triple Crown adult slow pitch softball director Patty Harsch said. "It has been around since the inception of the company. It started with adult slowpitch and branched out."

Triple Crown holds baseball and youth fastpitch softball tournaments in Steamboat Springs and surrounding communities, but the upcoming holiday weekend has been reserved for the adults for more than two decades.

"Anybody who is anybody in slowpitch softball in Colorado is coming up," Harsch said.

More than 120 teams are scheduled to take part, including the B&K Distributing/Pion--eer Materials team from Steam--boat.

Its first game is 8 a.m. Friday at Adams field at Howelsen Hill. The local team is playing in the Men's E division with 50 other teams. It is the largest bracket of the weekend.

In Men's E, a team's first home run counts as an out. Every home run after that immediately ends the inning.

"It's for classification purposes to avoid having big hitters sandbagging in lower classifications," Harsch said.

In Men's D, each home run is an out. In Men's C, the highest level of men's softball this weekend, three home runs are allowed, but each home run after that is an out.

Women's and coed divisions also will play this weekend.

The city of Steamboat Springs will not have adult recreation league softball games Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday because of the Fourth of July. The games rained out June 15 will be made up July 6. Times and fields will be as originally scheduled.

The tournament runs Friday morning through Sunday night on fields in Steamboat, Hayden and Craig.

"Our number -- 124 teams -- is what we had last year," Harsch said. "There isn't much growth in slowpitch, so for us to have the same number is great."

The tournament coincides with the Fourth of July holiday. With July 4 falling on a Tuesday, Harsch said players likely are bringing their families with them to make more of a vacation out of the weekend.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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