After a one-year hiatus spent in the scorching Utah heat, the National Softball Association Western World tournament returns to Snohomish County this year.
And that comes as good news to both the athletes and tournament organizers.
“It was so popular,” NSA Washington State Youth Organizer Steve Jensen said of the 2004 tournament that was held in Snohomish County. “Everyone loved it. All the California teams could talk about last year was: ‘I hope they can have it back in Washington.’ “
They got their wish.
Beginning with this Sunday’s opening ceremonies, the NSA Western World will feature thousands of athletes, nearly 200 teams, 21 fields and five days of games.
“Everyone’s pretty excited to have it,” Jensen said. “We’re glad to have it back.”
The tournament, which was played in 120-degree weather in St. George, Utah, last year, has the potential to bring the area plenty of financial rewards. Jensen said the 2004 tournament “sunk a lot of money into the community – millions, from what they’ve told me.” Most of that money comes from out-of-state teams getting hotel rooms and eating at area restaurants.
The tournament will be played throughout Snohomish County, with fields in places like Lynnwood, Everett, Marysville and Monroe playing host to games.
Teams are from five different age groups, from 10 to 18, and are all expected to be from the West Coast. Jensen said teams from California, Nevada, Oregon and Canada will join teams from the home state.
Snohomish County has nine teams in the tournament: the Stanwood-based Lady Starzz (10-and-under), the Lake Stevens-based Lake Breeze (12-and-under and 14-and-under), the Lake Stevens-based Lady Starzz (12-and-under), the Snohomish-based Snohomish County Khaos (12-and-under and 14-and-under) and the Marysville-based Snohomish County Express (12-and-under, 14-and-under and 16-and-under). The 14-and-under Express are the defending state champions.
Tournament officials will announce the brackets on Saturday, then thousands of athletes will take place in an opening ceremony at Everett Memorial Stadium at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Play begins Monday throughout the county. The winners of each age group advance to the Super Worlds, which will take place in Peoria, Ill., later this summer.