Busy summer for baseball

About 125 more teams expected for Triple Crown tournaments

Sean Hardy of Triple Crown Sports says Steamboat Springs can expect to see more baseball and softball teams in 2004.

"We expect to have about 125 more teams for the same eight weeks this year than we had last year," Hardy said. "It will be good for business, good for tourism and good for Steamboat."

Hardy said the numbers of teams that plan on coming to Steamboat are not official yet, but registration has been strong and the director of team sports said that should mean more visitors in Steamboat this summer.

The first official events will come to Steamboat on June 8 through 10 for a girls fast-pitch camp at Howelsen for about 160 players.

The camp will be followed by a girls fast-pitch tournament June 11 through 13 that will bring in about 105 teams.

"That's 34 more teams than last year," Hardy said. "That's pretty good growth."

The increase is the result of Steamboat losing the girls fast-pitch championships.

That tournament was moved to Park City, Utah, last summer. Now teams compete in Steamboat to qualify or prepare for the Park City event.

When the girls fast-pitch moved, it meant that the same number of youth baseball teams were spread out over more weekends in the summer -- and Steamboat lost 130 girls fast-pitch teams.

This year, Triple Crown is hoping the addition of more division II baseball teams will help make up the difference.

The first weekend of baseball is June 18 through 20.

Hardy expects about 90 teams for the event -- up from 75 in 2003.

Baseball will return June 25 through 27 with 50 teams playing in Division I.

Adult softball will take center stage July 2 through 4 as Steamboat plays host to the largest single weekend tournament in the state. Hardy said 150 adult baseball teams should take the field during the holiday weekend.

The Triple Crown World Series will bring baseball back to town July 20 through 25 with the first of three weekends.

The second session is scheduled for July 27 through Aug. 1 and the third is Aug. 3 through 8.

Hardy expects 25 more teams for the first weekend, 37 for the second weekend and 16 more in the final weekend. That weekend will be televised and should increase exposure for the tournament and the city.

Hardy said the reason for the increase in the number of teams is partly because of Triple Crown moving the Division II championships to Steamboat this summer. In the past, the regional championships were held in Fort Collins.

Triple Crown also added a day of play to each of the weekends. It is a move Hardy said makes the tournament more attractive to baseball teams and allows Triple Crown to use a double-elimination format for the finals.

In the past, the tournaments began with a skills day on Wednesday. This year the skills day will be moved to Tuesday, allowing play to begin Wednesday.

The Triple Crown season will come to an end Aug. 19 through 22 with the adult slow-pitch softball championships.

"It's going to be another busy summer, and I think it's going to be good for everybody."

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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