National AFA softball tournament a hit at Basehor’s Field of Dreams
When you think Basehor, you probably don't think national tournament. From July 25 to 28, however, the small Kansas town hosted a tournament of national proportions the American Fastpitch Association's 10-B softball tournament.
"For us to hold a national tournament, you know in a small town like Basehor, was a big accomplishment on our part," tournament director Jeremy McDowell said.
The tournament was played at Basehor's Field of Dreams, and McDowell said all of the teams there were pleased with how things went. Perhaps most pleased, however, was coach Rhonda Lang of the third-place Lansing Outlaws.
"I think they've done a wonderful job with that tournament," Lang said. "I can't tell you how well they take care of those fields. We play a lot of places and nobody takes care of the fields like they did. They had maintenance out there between games rechalking and watering. It was just great."
McDowell, baseball director for the Basehor Athletic Association, said one of the tournament's goals was to make sure that all of the players and coaches enjoyed their experience.
"We're in it to try and make a little money, but also to get exposure to other states," McDowell said. "It's a PR thing for us, too."
If positive PR was their goal, then positive PR they got. On Wednesday, July 25, the tournament conducted its opening ceremonies. A barbecue, a team march, as well as the national anthem, were part of the ceremony. McDowell said if they could've gotten more teams and more money, the ceremony would've been even bigger.
"More teams means more money,"McDowell said. "Before we knew how many teams were entering, there was even talk of having F-15 planes do a fly-by."
In all, 13 teams entered the tournament. After Wednesday's opening ceremonies, the teams played three pool games on Thursday and Friday. That was followed by a double-elimination tournament that started Friday night and ended late Saturday. McDowell said every team won at least one game at the tournament and that was something he was proud of.
"Every team came away saying that they won a game at a national tournament," McDowell said. "And that's really what it's all about. The girls were just astonished you could see it in their faces to be a part of a national tournament."
Lang said the high quality of the tournament made her feel like they were in a national tournament even though they played just 10 minutes from home.
"My kids got that sense," Lang said. "Even though we played just 10 minutes away from our home field, it was just a great experience. The umpires were great with the kids, the people who ran the camp were great and the tournament itself was wonderful."
Teams from Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas participated in the tournament and a team from Lawrence, the Lawrence Phenix, took home the title.
Overall, McDowell said the tournament was a huge success. He added that he hopes the success of the tournament along with the positive feedback he has already received means that next year's tournament would be even bigger and better.
"All 13 coaches shook my hand and told me that they were pleased," McDowell said. "That was a goal of mine and hopefully it'll mean that we will get more regular tournaments during the year in addition to this one."