Over 300 players dawning uniforms from 27 different clubs calling Arizona and its surrounding states home gathered for opening ceremonies of the 2017 NSA Southwest World Series on Wednesday night.
Home to many youth softball tournaments throughout the summer and national championship contests in years past, Pioneer Park in Prescott featured standing room only with parents and family members applauding their hometown teams in preparation for a four-day event beginning today.
Dale Pool, tournament director for the Southwest World Series, said for the Prescott area, this weekend not only brings “great economic impact” to the community, but a chance for the young players to make “lifelong memories.”
“For the girls, this gives them the chance to see teams from other states, California, Nevada, or from around the state. … They may meet again in other tournaments, or play in college,” Pool said, adding it’s fun to see some of the same players return to Prescott every year.
“It’s wonderful to see these girls grow, not only as players, but as individuals and the great sportsmanship that they display,” Pool said.
One team stood out in particular Wednesday night, wearing throwback Rockford Peaches uniforms from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, featured in the movie, “A League of their Own.”
Peyton Bradshaw, 15, of the Arizona Batbusters said wearing the Rockford Peaches uniforms is a tribute to the women who came before them.
As for their own chances of winning this weekend’s tournament, Bradshaw said her teammates are looking forward to “kicking butt.”
“We need to go in, play hard, and focus on winning,” Bradshaw said.
The Arizona Batbusters open the Southwest World Series with a pair of games in the early Thursday morning as they face AZ A’s Demarini Elite at 8 a.m. and Storm Fastpitch at 9:30 a.m.
Quad City Clovers third baseman Brina Lankford, 13, was the 2017 recipient of the National Softball Association’s $1,000 college scholarship Wednesday night.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I was really happy,” Lankford said after hearing her name called over the loud speaker.
The Clovers open the tournament with a 9:30 a.m. contest Thursday against the Firecrackers.
Lankford added this year’s Southwest World Series gives her team a chance to take a break from the regular grind of club softball travel and just play ball.
“It’s fun with all the girls, and we’re pretty good,” Lankford said. “It’s local, so fun.”
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at email@example.com or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.
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