RIDGELAND — After 18 softball teams invaded the city, including the host team Madison Motion, an in-state team fell once on Wednesday to go unbeaten through five games from Thursday to Saturday to claim the ASA 12-U Class B East National Fastpitch Tournament Championship.
The Gulfport Coastliners 12-U ASA softball team fell to the Jasper Twisters, 9-1, in opening tournament play on Wednesday. They then defeated the Monticello (Indiana) Eclipse, 3-2, on Thursday. Friday the Coastliners beat the MS Sluggers, 12-1, and the Hoosier Havoc, 5-2. On Saturday, the Coastliners met up with the Powell Patriots in the semis and the finals. They won each game by close decisions, 3-1 and 2-1.
Almost one week after the conclusion of the ASA tournament, Ridgeland Recreation and Parks Department officials are catching their breath from their bustling schedules that was required to host a national event.
According to Recreation and Parks Director Chris Chance, more than 1,300 people attended the games each day, Wednesday through Saturday, including coaches, players and team managers.
“All in all, I’d say that’s about what we expected,” Chance said. “Had the teams from Madison or Clinton fared better, our attendance would have been better, I’m sure.”
Chance said Rec and Parks officials worked long days throughout the week in order to manage the event, and the thanks and kudos received from parents and team representatives was well worth all of the hard work.
“Our work starts each day before the teams show up, and ends long after they have gone home,” he said.
“This was the first year we were allowed to see our ratings and the comments before they were turned in to the national office, and there were certainly some very flattering things written about our facility and our staff. We were also told over and over again by parents, players, and coaches how beautiful the facility was..that it was the best they had ever seen...and the best tournament and organization they’d ever been a part of,” he added.
The ASA tourney last weekend was just one large event hosted by Rec and Parks and Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland. Beginning back in April the city hosted Major League Soccer, collegiate softball with the Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State game, Olympic softball in May and national and state qualifier tournaments for softball and baseball. Rec and Parks officials also oversee the annual Trace Century Ride and Heatwave Classic Triathlon.
The 2004 summer, said Chance, has “busiest summer in our department’s history.”
He added, “now we've just got to figure out how to top it next year.”