WESTERLY — The Bash on the Beach youth softball tournament this weekend will be bigger than ever before and has become a summer “event” for the community and for hundreds of families from the Northeast who will be visiting.
The Westerly Girls’ Softball League has been sponsoring, organizing and directing the tournament for 12 years. The inaugural tournament in 2003 involved eight teams from the immediate geographic area.
The 10th annual tourney in 2012 was then the largest ever, involving 42 teams from four states. Last year there were 57 teams playing a total of 138 games spread across 12 local playing fields.
The count this year is 66 teams from six states (five New England states plus New York), playing 138 games and using 15 fields. All teams are fast-pitch travel teams whose level of play is more competitive than seen in recreational softball. Tournament director Sarah Baker said this now is the largest American Softball Association tourney played in Rhode Island.
“The main attraction is the location of the tournament,” Baker said. “Our beaches are a big draw as a vacation getaway for out-of-towners, with about 700 families spending the weekend in the area. The games are very competitive. And with the help of a strong volunteer population and local sponsors, we make it a lot of fun.”
The teams are clustered by age group into what represents four separate tournaments. Champions will be crowned Sunday evening for 18-and-under (18U), 14U, 12U, and 10U. Each team will play one game Friday night and two games on Saturday — against the three other teams in pool play. The results will be tallied Saturday night to determine seedings of all 66 teams for the single-elimination championship rounds on Sunday.
The Westerly-based Rhody Wave Runners and the Chariho/Westerly-based South County Sea Devils are two local teams that will be competing for the 12-team 18U championship. The Wave Runners and the Pawcatuck-based Cyclones are competing for the 18-team and 14U title.
The Wave Runners are the only local among 12 teams at the 10U level. There are no local teams in the 24-team 12U competition.
A detailed schedule of games and results for the three-day tournament can be found on the WGSL website at westerlygirlssoftball.com.
Baker said she hopes that the tournament will raise $10,000 this year. Some proceeds from games at some specified fields will be donated to support special programs: Richmond field proceeds for the Chariho recreational league, Trombino proceeds for Westerly High softball and Chariho fields for Rocky Hill athletics.
The rest will be used for WGSL programs, including the purchase of needed equipment and scholarships to players who otherwise could not play.