Guest Author - Traci Falb
Almost nothing is as exciting as starting a brand new season of softball! After practices start and weather starts to get warmer, players get accustomed to one another and their positions. The whole team improves and starts working as a whole. This is when its really fun to watch and/or play. Teams compete for top spots in tournaments and when the stakes become higher, competition increases.
I can think of one set of tournaments in particular that draw huge crowds of people. The players are exciting to watch because of all the talent among many teams. I'm referring to the "Fire in the Sky" girls fast pitch tournaments in Orrville, Ohio. 2013 will mark the ten year anniversary of these events. Every Fourth of July, fourteen year-old girls on the best fast pitch softball teams in the northeast compete for three days around the town's carnival. On the last day, one of Ohio's best fireworks shows ends the night with a bang. The winning team of these tournaments will go on to compete, with entry paid, at the ASA Eastern Nationals (Class A). The team coming in second will go on to the ASA Eastern Nationals (Class B).
My daughter and I watch the games every year. There is no fee for parking or to watch the games. Everything is located within walking distance. We usually park a little out of town and walk to the carnival. The street is closed where the rides are set up and vendors sell all kinds of great fair food. There is a walking path down the middle of the carnival that leads to the park. This is where the baseball/softball diamonds are. You can see softball teams with many new and interesting uniforms on walking together, sometimes relaxing or eating cotton candy. There is also a swimming pool that is very refreshing during the hot summer in July. There is a playground with lots of happy children, along with many shade trees to keep cool under. Taking the path further, you come across the woods and two more softball/baseball diamonds. Even more games will be going on here. Lots of players and teams can be seen watching or getting ready to play.
This year the tournaments run from July 4th through July 6th, 2013. There will be 64 teams competing, from Ohio and many neighboring states. ASA rules apply. The Orrville Fire Fighters are in charge of the "Fire in the Sky" tournaments, as well as the "5-Alarm Fastpitch" tournament, which is in June for sixteen to eighteen-year old girls. The Orrville Fire Fighters are also responsible for the wonderful fireworks display held after the tournaments (www.orrvillefireinthesky).
My daughter and I will definitely be here again this year. We are excited to see the new teams and she will be watching their talent, I'm sure. For softball fans wanting to watch a tournament in their area, go to the Nationwide Softball Tournament Directory at SoftballTournaments.com. You can choose your state and your sport. Whether it's men's or women's softball, fast or slow-pitch, you can find all the listings here. If you're like me, tournament time won't come soon enough!