by Joey Crandall, firstname.lastname@example.org Follow @joeycrandall
For the softball fans out there, this summer is going to be one to remember in Carson Valley.
Some of the top club softball teams from around the country will descend on Gardnerville in the middle of July to play in the Triple Crown USA Nationals Tournament.
The tournament will run from July 14-17, with the 14U and 18U divisions playing in the Reno and Sparks area.
Gardnerville and Lake Tahoe, though, will play host to the 16U division, with the Valley games being played at Stodick and Lampe parks.
The 16U division will draw 64 teams from as far away as North Carolina, Canada, Florida and Texas. Other teams are coming from California, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma. In total, the tournament will bring 180 teams to Northern Nevada (including 60 of the top 100 18U teams in the country). Carson Valley Fastpitch’s 16U travel squad will also get a chance compete in the bracket.
The championship games of the 16U and 18U divisions will be played at the University of Nevada’s Hixson Park and televised on the CBS Sports Network.
“Really, the biggest draw for this tournament is the level of competition,” said tournament director Krista Crawford. “These are high-level teams and that want to play against the best teams in the country. It’s invite-only and it is a very high level of softball.”
The tournament debuted in New York City in 2012, drawing the top fastpitch teams in the nation (based on the Triple Crown National Softball Rankings).
Reno and Tahoe hosted it in 2013 and Alpharetta and Gainesville, Georgia hosted it in 2014. It returns to the Sierra this summer.
“Admission is free and we encourage anyone in the community to come out and watch,” Crawford said. “These are players at the very top of the game, some of whom you might get to see on TV someday. It’s a great chance to watch some of the best softball in the country.”
Crawford estimated 75 to 100 college coaches and scouts will be roving Northern Nevada during the tournament to scout all age divisions.
The tournament has spelled an immediate boost for Valley hotels, with more than 500 nights booked at the Carson Valley Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Minden.
“Teams are generally very organized and they plan early for trips like this. They book their rooms early,” Crawford said. “The tournament plays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. so the players and families will have time to do things in Gardnerville or the surrounding areas.
“An event like this, we don’t have exact numbers, but it has a big effect on local economies. People are eating in restaurants, buying gas, getting out in the community. Each team, you’re looking at about 10 hotel rooms each with 25 to 30 girls on each team. And there are 30 to 40 teams that will be in that particular area.”
Carson Valley Hot Shots 16U coach Ed Doughty, who helped initiate the bid to host some of the games in Carson Valley, said he is excited for the opportunity to compete against the nation’s best and also for what hosting the tournament means to the community.
“The community and local businesses have been so supportive of Carson Valley Fastpitch over the years, and that’s largely been a relationship where they have given and given and given to us,” Doughty said. “It’s nice to be able to give back in the form of an event like this.”
Bill Henderson, director of sales and marketing for the Carson Valley Inn, said the tournament is serving a unique role in feeding the parks & recreation department.
“The really neat thing in this instance is that we’re using some of our recreational facilities to bring in occupancy to the local hotel industry. That week in July, we usually hit some doldrums, and then here is this big boon out of nowhere.
“What’s neat about it is that the room tax and sales tax generated goes back into helping parks and rec. These people will be generating a lot of sales tax just with eating and the grocery stores and convenience stores.”
For more information on the tournament, visit www.triplecrownsports.com.
For more information on Carson Valley Fastpitch, visit http://www.carsonvalleyfastpitch.com.
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