Play ball! heard on new field | ParkRecord.com

Play ball! heard on new field

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

George Karscig’s Pacific Thunder girls fast-pitch softball team lost on Thursday during the big Triple Crown Sports tournament.

But the loss, after traveling from Port Orchard, Wash., did not dim the manager’s praise for Park City’s new, and still under construction, fields complex at Quinn’s Junction.

He says the infield of the softball diamond where the Thunder played had stones, causing some bad bounces, but otherwise he is impressed.

"Even with all the construction going on, it’s a nice-looking area," he says.

Karscig says he especially likes the outfield.

"The turf in the outfield, I think, is a good idea. It’s a nice, even playing surface," he says. "It’s a little more fair than grass."

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Park City built the complex, anchored by an ice-skating arena, over the past year and the softball diamond made its debut with the Triple Crown tournament. As City Hall was considering whether to build the fields complex, the softball tournament, which has become a lucrative event on Park City’s calendar, was seen as one of the reasons to fund the facility.

"Quinn’s Junction will probably become the headquarters of the tournament," says Bill Malone, the executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, which has worked closely with the Triple Crown organizers.

The tournament is occupying softball diamonds throughout Summit County and in the Salt Lake Valley but Malone predicts the Quinn’s Junction complex, just east of Park City, will by 2007 be designated as the spot for the championship game. The 2006 tournament, which drew 279 teams over three weeks, ends July 27. About 10,000 people are expected to visit.

He says, if more of the games are held locally, more people will stay in Park City hotels and eat in the city’s restaurants, boosting the economy.

"We need to be playing on fields in Summit County," Malone says.

The complex will hold three full softball diamonds. Only one was completed in time for the tournament. Stacey Noonan, the general manager of the recreation complex, expects that all the diamonds will be ready for tournament play by the 2007 edition, which will be the fifth year the players will gather in Park City after moving the tournament from Steamboat, Colo.

"As far as I know, people are thrilled," Noonan says, adding, "Everybody likes things that are new and shiny."

Bill Pilcher, the girls fast-pitch director for Triple Crown Sports, praised the backstops and dugouts in his glowing assessment of the complex.

"If a team’s going to spend $10,000 to come here for a week, they want to play on quality facilities," Pilcher says.

At just after noon on Thursday, at the Pacific Thunder game, the chatter of softball players and their coaches was resonating as the distant hum of traffic on U.S. 40 could be heard in the background.

The players were steps away from what was otherwise a construction zone, with piles of dirt, pipes and wooden planks strewn on what will be turned into another playing field.

"This is a nice field. To tell you the truth, you guys have some beautiful fields," says Jesse Rosario, a Pacific Thunder fan who was at the Thursday game and travels to other softball competitions in Colorado, Idaho and Oregon. "I didn’t expect this out of a small town, in a good way."

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