Slowpitch softball returns to Triple Crown tournament

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— It wasn’t long ago that Triple Crown Sports slowpitch softball tournaments read like an obituary in this publication.

On a Sunday in July 2008, the supposed last pitch of Triple Crown slowpitch softball was thrown, not just in Steamboat, but anywhere.

At the time, slowpitch softball was the dinosaur of Triple Crown, and the bumbling economy and demographics created a shift in the Fort Collins-based organization.

“The economics of it is with the cost of putting on a tournament like that and what players and teams are willing to pay anymore, we’re not able to pull it off,” Phil Small, the tournament’s director, said at that time. “We lose money.”

But after a year’s absence, slowpitch softball is back in Steamboat with Saturday and Sunday’s Triple Crown Fourth of July Mountain Magic tournament, the only slowpitch softball tournament Triple Crown will run in Colorado this year.

“We’re happy to have it since we didn’t have it last year,” said Patty Harsch, this year’s tournament director.

Four divisions and 30 teams are expected to descend on the Howelsen Hill ball fields. There will be men’s upper and lower divisions, as well as coed and women’s divisions.

Play begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and will run until Sunday night with championship games taking place before the July 4 fireworks show.

There are no Steamboat-only teams playing this year, but there are local participants in the men’s lower and coed divisions.

The men’s upper division could be of interest to spectators as multiple top softball teams from Colorado are expected to play.

“Actually, it will be some of the best talent from the state,” Harsch said.

The tournament returned to Steamboat this year as a fundraiser for Pitchers women’s softball team. The team is a competitive Colorado team that travels across the country for tournaments.

In addition to the tournament, there will be an all-star game at 9 p.m. Saturday on Klumker Field.

There also will be children’s games in between the adult games, as well as a kickball tournament for those teams knocked out of the coed tournament.

“We’re grateful we are working with city of Steamboat,” Harsch said. “We’re happy we are to bringing slowpitch back to the city.”

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