PRESCOTT - The word is out on this weekend's women's softball tournament in Prescott.
Senior women have carved out a niche all their own with the return of the ever-growing Senior Women's Summer Softball Smash. Last year the event for the first time attracted teams from beyond the Southwest, and this year six states are represented, along with a healthy contingent of Arizona clubs, in the 20-team field.
"It's just kind of word of mouth," tournament coordinator Michelle Stacy-Schroeder with the City of Prescott said Thursday. "These women go all over the place and play tournaments and say 'There's this tournament in Prescott, Arizona, and it's a fun tournament.' Just through that channel it's grown year after year."
Play starts on four fields at Pioneer Park this Saturday at 8 a.m. Games also switch to Heritage Park by Sunday, as the brackets conclude with four championship games in each age division (50+, 55+, 60+, 65+).
The tournament is also part of the Prescott Senior Olympic Games, which open today at sites all around town.
Not only has the Summer Smash become a signature softball event for Prescott, but also for competitive ladies who typically have far fewer options in which to play ball than their male counterparts.
"There are not as many women's tournaments as there are men's tournaments," Stacy-Schroeder added. "And so these women like to travel, they like to see new places, and play softball."
In addition to the Arizona clubs, teams coming to town this weekend hail from California, New Mexico, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and Kansas.
Although local players will be found playing on a couple of random rosters in the bracket, the lone local team in the mix is the Prescott 50s. They open play in the 50+ age division on Saturday at 8 a.m. at Pioneer's #4 field against the High Desert Diamonds. They also play at 10:30 a.m. (Field #2) and again at 1:15 p.m. (Field #4).
Games start on all four fields at Pioneer at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and continue every 75 minutes. The final first-day games begin at 5 p.m.
On Sunday, the 50+ division championship is at 2 p.m. on Heritage Park's Field #1; the 55+ championship is at 5 p.m. on Pioneer's Field #1; the 60+ championship is at 5 p.m. on Pioneer's Field #2; and the 65+ championship is at 5 p.m. on Pioneer's #3.
Pioneer Park is located at 1200 Commerce Drive, and Heritage Park is at 1497 Heritage Park Road.