The Blue Thunder 12-under youth softball team will play in the Top Gun Summer World Series July 18-21, which coach Steve Horne considers to be his team’s “biggest tournament of the year.”Horne is impressed with the number of teams that have registered for the local tourney and the event’s accompanying pageantry. It makes the Summer World Series easily one of most important tournaments Top Gun will host this year. It didn’t always use to be that way, says Top Gun softball director Robin Phillips. This year’s event will welcome a Summer World Series-record 150 teams, three times as many as when Top Gun held its first such tournament in 2002. Last year’s Summer World Series had 99 teams.Phillips says that Top Gun Sports, the Concord-based sanctioning body, takes pride in the quality of the tournaments it hosts and that its solid reputation continues to spread. In addition to baseball, Top Gun hosts approximately 40 youth softball tournaments a year.“I think it’s because teams follow us and the overall events we run,” said Phillips. “We do field maintenance. We keep track of home runs (and other stats) and we give prizes for things players do that are spectacular. ...“We strive to have the best organization that we can. And we focus on the girls, making sure they get what they deserve.”This year’s Summer World Series will include teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. Top Gun is one of numerous sanctioning bodies that label certain tournaments as “world series” though they don’t have a worldly presence.Phillips hopes that Top Gun can one day attract teams from across the country and the world to any of the three World Series’ it holds throughout the year. Of the three – spring, summer and winter – the Winter World Series hosts the largest number of teams. More than 200 teams competed in the November tournament.The Summer World Series will include play in five divisions. The 8-under coach pitch division games will be played at Concord’s Rocky River Elementary School and Frank Liske Park. W.W. Flowe Park and the Hartsell Athletic Complex, also in Concord, will host the 16-under high school division.Charlotte’s Nevin Park and Hornets Nest Park will be the sites for the 12-under division while Bradford Park and North Mecklenburg Park in Huntersville will host the 14-under games. Including staff who will serve as site directors, cover gate admission and work as statisticians, Phillips figures that Top Gun will help employ close to 200 people throughout the weekend, not including umpires.Among the Cabarrus County teams that will vie for championships are the Blue Thunder (12-under, 14-under), Piedmont Lady Magic (10u), Diamond Crushers (10u, 10u, 14u), Lady Lightning (12u), Lady Tigers (8u, 10u, 12u), Extreme Performance (12u, 14u), Carolina Starz (8u) and Carolina Force (14u, 16u).“One reason I like Top Gun tournaments is that it’s convenient,” said Horne, whose 11-year old daughter Mya is a catcher on the 12-under Blue Thunder. “It’s based out of Concord. They’re easy to work with to get practice facilities. They’re easy to get a hold of. I like the competition for our girls. It’s definitely more competition than what they would get playing in a rec league.”All of the teams will gather at the Rocky River Elementary School fields July 18 for opening ceremonies. Included on the day’s agenda are skills competitions such as a home run derby, an around-the-horn throwing competition, and a coach/parent relay run contest. Fireworks will conclude the opening ceremonies.Teams earn Top Gun Sports points for participating in its tournaments and the more successful they are, the more points they earn. Top Gun softball is split into a spring season and fall season and seasonal champions are declared based on point totals.The Summer World Series concludes the Top Gun spring season.
Monday, Jul. 15, 2013
Top Gun Summer World Series attracts 150 teams
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at email@example.com.
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