Triple Crown wraps up another tourney
The onslaught of SUVs, pitching tees, trading pins and window chalk is finally finished. After a month’s worth of non-stop girls’ fast-pitch softball competition, the 2008 Triple Crown World Series is officially history.
On Friday, the competition concluded with the 16-U and 18-U championship games, an all-star game and the finals of the skills contests. For Bill Walters it was business as usual as far as things running smoothly. Officials and players alike called it a success, but this year he had a little extra something to smile about the local angle.
The week started out with the Summit County Silver Strikers leading the parade down Main Street in their own hometown and the week ended with Utah teams playing in the championship game in both divisions.
"We played well to the local crowd," Walters said.
That translated into big home crowds, a better community feel and it put Utah on the map among long-established California and Arizona programs. It also gave a lot of locals a reason to actually go out and discover what Triple Crown and girls’ softball is all about.
"I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I’ve never seen fast-pitch softball. Those girls are really good,’" Summit County Silver Strikers head coach Scott Chester said. "A lot of people didn’t know."
With Utah teams in the finals, it also made for some great television. The championship game has always been televised, but Walters is excited to see how the games look with a huge crowd in the background.
One thing Walters said he will change is the College Showcase format during the final week of competition. It was originally designed to show off the talent of all-star players to college coaches, but many coaches can’t make the trip, so Walters is going back to the drawing board on that one, but otherwise, he was more than pleased with the tournament. He is hoping to see the tournament expand to accommodate 800 teams in the next five years.
"We’re looking forward to future years in Park City," Walters said.
Things also wrapped up well for the Silver Strikers. They beat the Ft. Collins Stars 15-6 in their first game on Friday after an astounding 12-run first inning. They lost 7-1 in their second game of the day to the Colorado Red Wings, but Chester was pleased with how things finished.
"I think they were past the ‘pressure is on’ point," he said. "It showed they were wanting to play."
Some of the Silver Strikers were even part of the Friday evening extravaganza. Brittney Stokes threw a 61-mile per hour fastball to take second in the Speed Throw Skills Contest and Aundrea Hargroder and Rachel Rehfield were selected for the All-World All-Star game. Hargroder went 3-for-3 in the game. She also maintained her .500 batting average throughout tournament.
"The girls were loving the All-Star game the attention, talking about their programs with college coaches," Chester said.
Chester is excited to continue the club team and plans to play twice as many games next summer with an even bigger squad. He will also start a 14-and-under team in the fall. He said that he is happy to see the momentum the club has created. He is also thrilled with the other things that came with the team, including making the tournament more of a community affair and bringing three very different towns in Summit County together for a common cause.
"I did this to bring softball to the county," Chester said. "All of this other stuff is just icing on the cake."
The Silver Strikers will continue to play in tournaments through August and a 14-and-under squad will begin play in the fall. For the high school tournament schedule or for more information about joining the Silver Strikers this fall, visit http://www.eteamz.com/silverstrikers.
The Triple Crown championship games will be televised Aug. 2-6. For a viewing schedule, visit http://www.triplecrownsports.com/tourny_detail.asp?tournyid=2802 and click on the "Forms" link.
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