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7:20 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Preview: Arizona NSA ‘Best of the West’ tournament set for Saturday, Sunday in Prescott

Prep Softball

Verde Valley Heat Elite 14U’s Alexis Ayersman delivers a pitch at the Schools Out for Summer NSA fastpitch girls softball tournament at Pioneer Park in Prescott, June 2, 2018. The Heat will participate in the Best of the West tournament set to take place Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

Verde Valley Heat Elite 14U’s Alexis Ayersman delivers a pitch at the Schools Out for Summer NSA fastpitch girls softball tournament at Pioneer Park in Prescott, June 2, 2018. The Heat will participate in the Best of the West tournament set to take place Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

PRESCOTT — Arizona National Softball Association’s (NSA) 2018 season ends with an exclamation point on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, as 36 girls’ fast-pitch softball teams converge on Prescott Parks and Rec’s fields for the annual Monsoon Madness/Best of the West tournament.

The tournament features teams in four age divisions, including 12-and-Under, 14U, 16U and 18U. Squads hail from Prescott’s quad-city area, Cottonwood, the Verde Valley, Phoenix, Casa Grande, Surprise, Chandler, Sierra Vista, Tucson, Flagstaff, Kingman, Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City, as well as from Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada.

At the end of the four-game guarantee tourney, Arizona NSA will award the Arizona Cup to each of the top teams in the 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U age classes. Cup-winning squads will have accumulated the most NSA tournament points during the 2018 campaign, which runs from Aug. 1, 2017, through July 31.

“Each division in this tournament will be very competitive and will provide some outstanding games to watch throughout the weekend,” Best of the West tournament co-director Rick Hormann said.

Locally, in 12U, Prescott’s Sandsnakes ’05 (currently first place in the Arizona Cup standings, 180 points) and the Clovers (currently second place, 170 points) seek tournament age-division medals and the Arizona Cup trophy.

In 14U, Verde Valley Heat Elite (first place, 200 points) looks to lock up the Cup in a grouping that also includes AZ Anguish (fourth, 112 points), Ruthless Vasquez of Las Vegas, the Arizona Suncats, Casa Grande Heat-Montana and Arizona Elite.

In 16U, the Ladyhawks of Prescott (seventh, 85 points) play host to an 11-team age division, Hormann added.

In 18U, the Bullhead City Boom (first, 232 points), Arizona Batbusters of Prescott Valley (second, 230 points) and Flagstaff Ambush (third, 227 points) face off in a heated race for the Arizona Cup, as each game played will lend itself to determining the champion.

After this weekend, Arizona NSA’s 2019 season opens Aug. 11 and 12 with the Summer Mile Hi Classic at the Pioneer Park 4-Plex in Prescott.

NSA’S ARIZONA CUP EXPLAINED

To encourage fast-pitch softball teams to participate in as many Arizona NSA-sponsored tournaments as possible, the Arizona NSA committee developed the Arizona Cup. Teams accumulate points based on the number of tournament games they play and their finishes in each tournament during the season.

Arizona NSA awards points to winning teams (10 points), those that register ties (7 points) and those that lose (5 points). In addition, teams that qualify for championship games earn more points, as each championship team garners an additional 10 points while each runner-up team snares 5 points.

At the end of each season, in July, the team that has accumulated the most points in each age division receives the Arizona Cup. The winning team also obtains free entry into the NSA tournament of their choice for the next season, excluding the NSA World Series.

Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at dcook@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.