Darrell Austin once had a dream. He envisioned a local tournament of champions, bringing together the best of the best from every local league for an event which could settle where the best softball is played.
I’ve always shared this vision. I think it is long-past time where this county decides on the diamond where the best softball is played, be it Midway, Morrison, Centertown or elsewhere.
While making my rounds at many of the local softball hotbeds (and I’ll be at more in the coming weeks), I’ve seen plenty of talent. It’s a hitter’s game and there’s no shortage of players in our area with the ability to send softballs sailing toward the stratosphere.
Let’s get them all together on one field and battle for local supremacy.
For the 100th time, I think our local fields at McMinnville Civic Center are the perfect place to hold tournaments. Most of the fields are already easily converted to softball, since mounds are becoming a thing of the past locally.
With an abundance of fields – many of which lie dormant throughout July – it would be perfect to wait until the softball leagues end, then call for leagues to select their all-stars and bring them together for one day of action.
It doesn’t have to be seniors either. Why not start with T-ball and go all the way up to the teenagers?
Every league in town has T-ball for kids under 5, then some hybrid T-ball/coach-pitch action for players ages 6-8. Even if it was just five or six local teams, wouldn’t it be fun to see who emerged as a champion?
An added bonus would be our local school coaches getting a chance to find some hidden gems hiding in the rural leagues. Quick hands, solid fielding and strong arms translate from slow-pitch to baseball or softball pretty easily, especially at an early age.
The youth baseball and softball leagues at the Civic Center could even enter their all-star teams. It may get a little bit tricky once you get into kid-pitch ages, but I think each group could find somebody to toss the ball over the plate for a day.
Every year, I hear the same thing in the winter on the hardwood when I’m circling the county. I’ll get to a gym and fans are excited because there are kids representing their community. The turnout is always amazing.
Take that spirit, add a softball and you’d have one of the biggest tournaments this town has ever seen.