In what could be the largest sports tournament ever hosted in Steinbach, more than 600 players and coaches and 41 teams will be converging on the city this weekend for the Softball Manitoba U14 ‘B’ Girls provincial championship.
In fact Softball Manitoba executive director Don Klym, said this could one of the largest tournaments in the history of Softball Manitoba.
This is an open tournament, teams do not have to qualify, and as such the tournament has grown each year to become what it is today.
Klym says they have been running open tournaments for the past seven years or so, instead of teams qualifying through zone play as was originally done. And he says with the elimination of ‘C’ ball it has also contributed to the growth of the tourney.
For the past number of years, Steinbach has hosted one of these tourneys, which include age group levels of U10, U12, U14, U16 and U19, but the U14 tournament Steinbach is hosting this year is far and away the largest.
To accommodate the numbers, two diamonds at Friedensfeld will be used for round robin play on Friday and Saturday, as well as four diamonds at A.D. Penner Park in Steinbach. All playoff games will be held in Steinbach on Sunday.
Teams are divided into eight pools and the top two teams from each pool at the completion of the round robin will advance to Sunday’s playoffs.
There will be five local teams competing, including the Steinbach Storm, who will join squads from Mitchell, Landmark, Seine River and Springfield. Other teams are coming from across Manitoba as well as an entry from Thunder Bay.
Klym says each team will have approximately 13 players, plus four coaches meaning there could be close to 700 participants in the massive tourney.
Again, the Steinbach & District Umpires Association are the principal organizers of the tournament. Event Umpire-In-Chief Mike Klassen says they will have about a dozen umpires working the tournament and a number of other of volunteers assisting at the gate. Klassen says some of their umpires are also working at other events on the weekend as well so it is a very busy time for the association.
The concessions, which should be prove to very busy, will be run by the Steinbach Storm and Steinbach Girls Softball Association.
Klym says the size of this provincial tournament in Steinbach this year is part of the growth they have seen in recent years in girls’ softball in the province.
Round robin play begins at 9:00 a.m. at both Steinbach and Friedensfeld Friday and Saturday and continue until the evening at both locales.
Playoff games begin in Steinbach Sunday at 9:00 a.m. with the semi-finals slated for 4:00 p.m. and then the championship game at 5:30 p.m.