As storm clouds rolled in at the Ecker Hill baseball field on Thursday evening, the Skullcandy Crushers under-10 baseball team managed to squeeze in a full practice just before the lightning drew close enough to send parents and players heading for their cars.
Getting as much practice time as possible is going to be crucial for both the U10 and U12 Crushers, who are preparing for the Triple Crown World Series tournament from July 21 to July 26 in Park City.
Following the U14 Triple Crown Softball World Series, which begins July 14 with a skills competition and a parade down Main Street and ends July 19, the baseball players will move in for their turn to compete.
Triple Crown anticipates that 85 teams will compete in the Softball World Series, representing almost every state in the Western United States, but drawing heavily from California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah.
Bill Walters, the event director for the World Series, said the teams will play all over Summit County.
"We play in Coalville and Oakley, too," he said. "And since we've actually turned teams away this year, we'll probably be expanding into Heber next year. There are no more venues in the Summit County area, so in order to grow, we'll need to expand into Heber."
But, he added, the group loves hosting its tournament in Park City and has no plans to leave the area.
"We're getting ready to sign a five-year extension," he said. "The teams like it. They like the town, the climate, the lodging and the fields. It's a great place to play."
For the Skullcandy Crushers, the baseball tournament will be a great chance to see how they stack up against the top teams in the West.
"They'll actually be seeing some of the better teams across the country," Assistant Coach Dave Kolar said. "It'll be good for them to set their skills against some of the better teams to see what they need to work on.
"And, anytime you get a chance to play on a big stage, especially as a kid, it's always going to be a chance to bond."
Bonding and coming together as a team is what it's all about, head coach Brent Milner said.
"The best part about the tournament is the camaraderie amongst the boys," he said. "There are 50-some teams coming together from 10 to 12 states. There's an element of competition, but also of getting to know peers at the highest level."
The boys are looking forward to having fun and seeing what teams from other states can do.
"We're really excited," Ian Knox said. "We can't wait."
But, don't think for a second that they aren't also looking to put Utah baseball on the map.
"We're excited," Isaac Bateman agreed. "But I mostly just want to win."
For more information about the Triple Crown baseball or softball tournaments, visit www.triplecrownsports.com .