Steamboat Springs The symmetry of the last and final Triple Crown Mountain Magic slow-pitch softball tournament is almost eerie.
The first event in Steamboat Springs brought out 59 teams. In this year's swan song, the tournament will have 59 teams.
"It's very ironic," Triple Crown founder Dave King said. "It's funny that number matches."
The tournament starts at 8 a.m. today and continues through Sunday, with championship games scheduled for early Sunday afternoon. Tournament games will be played at the Ski Town Fields as well as Howelsen Hill. There also will be an all-star game tonight at Howelsen Hill.
There are several divisions with teams from Steamboat or Craig playing. Local teams playing include SRC in men's D, Yampa Valley SI-11 in men's E, ABI/B&K Hard Hat Honeys in the women's division and the Cannonballers in the coed division.
In all divisions and games, wood bats will be the only bats that are allowed for use. Triple Crown will provide two bats in each dugout during the tournament. King said this is the first slow-pitch tournament Triple Crown has ever done solely with wood bats.
"It's like golf," King said of using only wooden bats. "If it was all about driving the ball and hitting it long, John Daly would be the best golfer. In golf, you're balancing it out with chipping and putting. That's what defense does in slow pitch."
Although this is the last slow-pitch tournament Triple Crown will host in Steamboat, it's also the last year Triple Crown will put on slow-pitch events.
King, who coordinated a "triple crown" of three softball tournaments between Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat in 1983, said Steamboat is where the Fort Collins-based Triple Crown got its start.
But with numbers declining in adult programs and continuing steadily in youth programs, King said it wasn't smart business to still do slow-pitch softball.
"It's been a great run, but it's time for it to end," King said. "The market is too small to do business anymore. There's just not enough customers left. In a very niche market, it's very hard for a professional business like ours to exist."
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