EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – A familiar chant one might hear in Evansville this week might be, “Hey batter batter batter swing!” Evansville has been invaded by 180 softball teams as they took part in opening ceremonies of the USSSA Great Lakes Nationals at the Ford Center on Monday night.
Before battles on many diamonds across Evansville, Newburgh and Henderson begin, the opening ceremony was a good time for all teams. Inflatables were available for players to run, jump, climb and slide on.
Awards were given for individual competitions at opening ceremonies in baserunning and a home run derby. Teams also competed in the Around the Horn competition, which involved the team’s infield seeing how fast they can throw it around to each base.
Teams from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Ohio will compete in a format of pool play on July 12 and 13. A double elimination tournament with the top two seeds of each pool advancing will follow the pool play.
Evansville has become almost a second home to the USSSA as the tournament is expected to give $3.3 million back to the city. Evansville Director of Sports Facilities, Tim Fulton, explained all the hard work that has been put into this tournament.
“Evansville has a history of fostering the USSSA organization as a whole. We were actually the park of the year last year for the USSSA at the national level,” said Fulton. “It was an easy sell to have this tournament here because myself and my crew has known Tim Foster (Indiana State Director of USSSA) for many years and he has refused to leave since. Tim brought about 25 volunteers with him to help. Henderson is a volunteer organization. Newburgh’s field is run by a volunteer organization and Deaconess Sports Park does tournaments every week.”
Some teams saw the opening ceremonies as a time to learn about their competition by trading their team pins. Some teams saw it as an opportunity to talk with Eyewitness News about their goals for the week.
“I look forward to being with my teammates, spending time with them, and winning!” said Brylyn Boswell from Indiana Gators of Evansville.
“An accomplishment would be to place at least second seed for Thursday.” said Eva Benson from Vincennes Sting.
“Feel like we have a pretty strong crew this year. We did lose our starting catcher to a knee injury but the girls have picked up,” said Jeremy Jefferson, head coach of the Southern Indiana Redbirds ’08 from New Albany. “We are really playing for her for the rest of the season. Our motto is to flip that switch. When we get on the field, be ready to go. We’re playing for #22 this year. So we feel like we have good of a chance as anyone going into this tournament.”
The winners will have bragging rights about being the best team in their division in the Great Lakes Region and will leave with medals, awards and keepsakes to remember their week in Evansville. More information about the tournament can be found here.