Area braces for impact: Let the (softball) games begin!
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent July 21, 2012 11:38PM
Steve Garland prepares to drill holes in one of the softball fields at the Old Fairgrounds Park in Valparaiso Friday July 20, 2012. Garland and other Valparaiso Parks Department employees were setting temporary outfield fences for the fields in preparation for play in the 2012 National Softball Association Girls "B" World Series which is scheduled to open Monday with Valparaiso hosting the opening ceremonies. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
The parade for the National Softball Association’s 2012 Girls Fast Pitch “B” World Series takes place at 6 p.m. Monday, heading from Central Elementary School in Valparaiso downtown to Central Park Plaza. Opening ceremonies follow the parade.
For more information on the tournament, which continues for the week throughout the region, check online at www.southshorecva.com/nsa/.
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:54AM
More than 7,500 softball players, families and fans will descend on the region this week, starting Monday, for the National Softball Association’s 2012 Girls Fast Pitch “B” World Series.
Opening ceremonies, including a parade, take place in downtown Valparaiso on Monday evening, while about 250 girls softball teams from across the country will play on ball fields in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.
Crown Point hosted the opening ceremonies in 2009, and they were held at the U.S. Steel Yard in 2007. The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will bring the tournament to the region again in 2014, and perhaps in 2016.
Officials with the SSCVA, as well as area chambers of commerce, note the tournament is a boon for local restaurants and hotels, and offers the chance to introduce newcomers to the area and, hopefully, bring them back.
“We’ve got them here for sports but we would like to showcase Northwest Indiana,” said Jason Sands, director of sports development for South Shore Sports Promotions.
Games start Tuesday and conclude with championship rounds Saturday, but Monday will be the one time most of the folks involved with the tournament are in one spot — downtown Valparaiso and the city’s Central Park Plaza.
The park can easily accommodate the crowd, said Rex Richards, president of the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. He noted the park, unveiled last August, often hosts 5,000 people for concerts.
“This is going to bring in a tremendous number of people who’ve probably never been here,” Richards said. “This will be a fabulous event to showcase Valparaiso, Indiana.”
The opening ceremonies also bring people downtown on a night that’s typically slow for local restaurants, Richards said, adding that follows an afternoon of contests and festivities for the teams at Old Fairgrounds Park.
“This ought to be a really nice shot in the arm not only for the hotels in Porter County, but Lake County and LaPorte (County),” Richards said.
The softball games will be played in Crown Point, Highland, St. John, Portage, Valparaiso, Merrillville, Michigan City and LaPorte.
Though Highland doesn’t have any hotels, the town does have restaurants that will benefit from an influx of visitors in the community for tournament games, said Mary Luptak, executive director of the Highland Chamber of Commerce.
“They’ll be visiting the restaurants, and it will be nice to show off the parks,” she said, “and you never know when someone is moving. It will be nice to show off our community.”