Softball Tournament Hopes to Be Summer Splash
Posted at 12:01 a.m. on June 21, 2012
While softball is already a mainstay of the recreational culture in Washington, D.C., its shadow will loom even larger over the nation’s capital this summer when it gets a tournament akin to NCAA’s March Madness.
The tournament is being put on by the National Conference of State Societies, an organization that promotes social and civic activities among residents of D.C. who come from all over the United States and its five territories.
Under the leadership of Bill Christian, president of the NCSS, softball teams from different leagues with connections to a state or territory can take part in the “Summer Insanity” tournament, scheduled to begin June 30 at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
There are eight conferences — States of the Big 12, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, States of the Big 10 and the 49 Plus.
Within each conference, there will be eight to 12 teams. From the end of June until the end of July, each conference will hold a mini-tournament, determining its top two teams and sending them to the 16-team World Series, which begins Sept. 22.
Some rules from the Congressional, House and Senate leagues will carry over into the tournament, including the requirement that each team field three female players. The double-elimination format holds that teams must lose twice before having to throw in the towel.
Inspiration for the tournament came nearly 10 years ago, when Christian became intrigued by a smaller-scale version put on by the Nebraska Society. That format featured teams hailing from states with ties to the Big 12, the Division I college athletic conference.
When the University of Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big 10 in 2010, the tournament added teams from states with ties to the Cornhuskers’ new conference.
Christian wants to emulate the Nebraska model on a national scale. The other prime motivation for creating the tournament is to widen the NCSS’ recreational involvement in Washington.
“One of the reasons I’m doing this is to expand the scope of the NCSS,” he said.
Although some Congressional leagues have had a problem finding a place to play, Christian, a retired Marine, served his reserve duty on the base and used his base privileges helped lock down the use of playing fields for the tournament.
The main challenge is recruiting enough teams. While the States of the Big 10 conference is organized by the Nebraska Society, it will be up to Christian and his lieutenants to find 68 teams by the tournament’s June 30 start date — a tall order. Moreover, achieving geographic parity requires a more tedious recruiting process.
“This is our first crack at this,” said Josephine Eckert, president of the Washington State chapter. “I’m sure there will be some growing pains.”
Devlin Daneshforouz, a staffer in the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a member of the Silver State Sluggers, is doing his part to fill in the bracket for the Southwest region, exhausting his Senate Softball League contacts. He plans on reaching out to teams from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The Sluggers are already committed to participate.
In Daneshforouz’s eyes, the merit of the tournament can be found in giving team’s a chance to play for home-state pride.
“You definitely want to always represent for your state, especially being from Nevada. We like to show them we mean business,” he said.
With a years-old idea now on the cusp of becoming a reality, Christian is resolute to see the tournament transpire.
“We’re definitely going to go forward. This year is a test experiment,” he said.
Teams interested in participating can contact Christian at email@example.com.