By Doug Cook, The Daily Courier, Prescott AZ
Seven teams are expected to compete in the inaugural Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Men’s 60-and-Over Fastpitch National Championships this Friday through Sunday at Ken Lindley and Bill Vallely fields.
Last Friday marked the entry-fee deadline for the three-game guarantee tournament’s bracket, which will be finalized later today.
The tourney field is scheduled to include Yavapai Casino of Prescott; the Prescott Patriots, a team comprised of Arizona and California players; Airtronics of San Jose, Calif.; Arizona Turquoise Kings, a club consisting of players from around the state; Frank Rogers Masters of Colorado Springs, Colo.; the Arizona Stars of Tucson and Texas; and Seattle Fastpitch of Washington state.
Players who are eligible to participate must be at least 60 years old by Dec. 31. Until this year, the ASA offered fastpitch national tournaments for men no older than 50-plus, Arizona ASA Commissioner Don Fishel said.
“Prescott’s always been pretty well known about running men’s fastpitch, so the (ASA) national office decided to have the tournament here in Prescott,” said Fishel, who doubles as an ASA national representative. “Now that it’s 60-and-over, you’ve got people who can just keep playing, and we should see some pitchers here that used to be pretty recognized back 20 or 30 years ago.”
Ernie Jones of the Prescott-Yavapai Tribe, who’s on the Yavapai Casino squad, said he and his teammates are excited to be in the tournament, which will mark the end of 2012 summer softball season in Prescott.
Most of the Yavapai Casino players play in the Prescott senior slow-pitch softball league.
“All we’re doing is just trying to relive our younger days when we played,” he said. “Most of us haven’t played fastpitch for the last 10 to 15 years, but we’re still able to get out there on the field. Our only problem would be is to probably get capable pitchers who can still pitch at 60.”
Admission into the 60-and-over tournament is free. A pre-tournament draw to determine tourney pairings, as well as a meeting and luncheon, will take place at noon Friday at the Palace restaurant on Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott.
Opening ceremonies will commence at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Lindley, 702 E. Gurley St., followed by six of the seven teams playing contests there at 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Lindley and the Bill Vallely fields, 621 N. Washington St., will play host to games.
The tourney championship is slated for 11 a.m. Sunday at Lindley, with the if-necessary title game at 1 p.m.
At the conclusion of the tournament Sunday afternoon, closing ceremonies will be conducted with the awarding of first- and second-place team trophies, first-place medallions for individual players, first-team All-American honors, as well as plaques for the tourney’s batting and home run champions.
Fishel said he expects a competitive tournament.
“I really do believe today that people who are in their 40s through their 60s are in a little better health than they used to be,” he said. “There could be people still wanting to play now until they’re 70-plus. It (60-and-over tournament) gives people a reason to keep playing fastpitch.”
For more information, call Fishel at 928-777-1553 or tournament director Rick Hormann at 928-777-1557.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed six World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.
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