Published Date Written by Lloyd JonesCONWAY — Whitney Roberts is doing her part to stimulate the local economy this weekend.
The Tamworth resident and former Kennett High softball standout, has organized a girls softball tournament — the Mount Washington Valley Classic — which will bring over 500 softball players plus family members for three days of nonstop softball from Conway to Tamworth.
Roberts, a sophomore at Barry University in Miami, Florida, where she is continuing to play softball as a pitcher and first baseman, has 36 teams from across New England coming to the area on Friday. There are a dozen 14 and under teams; 12 U16 teams; and a dozen U18 teams featuring a host of college players planning to take to the diamond.
"We'e got players and teams from all over New England," Roberts said. "We've got them from Rhode Island, Maine, Mass., Vermont and New Hampshire coming. It should be a lot of very good softball."
The NH Comets are sending six teams (three U14; one U16 and two U18 teams.
Games will be played on six softball fields: two at Kennett High in Redstone (hosting the U18 games; one at Kennett Middle School and one at Conway Elementary School in Conway Village (hosting the U16 games); and on the recreation field and one on the KA Brett School field in Tamworth (hosting the U14 teams).
The MWV Classic is an ASA (Amateur Softball Association of America) sanctioned tournament and Roberts organized everything from trophies to teams to umpires. This is a fast pitch tournament.
" Cecil (Narciso Torres) is my head umpire and he got all of the other umpires, I think there's 12-14, for the weekend," Roberts said. "...(Smiling) This is the first time I've ever run a tournament and it was a lot of work.
"I've been planning this since last September," she continued. "Most of the ASA tournaments are down south of Concord and I really wanted to see if we could do one up here. I touched base with the ASA commissioner for up north and she said go for it."
Roberts explained that the three divisions will be broken up into pool play on Friday and Saturday with each team playing three games. On Saturday night, Roberts will then seed teams based on their record for single-elimination tournament play on Sunday.
Games in pool play are seven innings or 90 minutes in length while Sunday's contests are all slated for seven innings.
The action begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. In the U 14 bracket, the NE Storm plays the Nor'Easters at Tamworth Rec. (Field I); while
the Granite State Mystics play NH Lightning Gold at the Brett School (Field II).
At 6:15 p.m., it's the Rally Cats versus NH Lightning on Field I and Lynn Lightning versus NH Comets Blue on Field II.
In U16 action Friday: at 4:30 p.m., it's the Nor'Easters versus Dover Xtreme on Field I (KMS) and the Worcester Heat versus NH Comets Blue on Field II (CES).
At 6:15 p.m., it's the Worcester Heat versus the NH Lightning on Field I and Seacoast Breakers versus Northeast Hurricanes on Field II.
In U18 action Friday: at 4:30 p.m., it's the Maine Thunder versus NH Comets Red.
At 6:15 p.m., it's the Nor'Easters versus NH Comets Blue on Field I and Seacoast Breakers versus the Dragons on Field II.
Play Saturday begins at 8 a.m. and runs through 8 p.m. at each field.
On Sunday, single-elimination play begins at 8 a.m. with the championship games set for 3:45 p.m., weather-permitting.
Roberts hopes to get into game action for an inning or two with the Southern Maine Heat in the U18 Division. Faye Roberts, Jordyn Moore and Lauren White, members of the recent state runner-up Kennett High softball team also play for the Heat while their KHS teammate Shelby Hill is a pitcher for the Nor'Easters, who are based out of the Gilford area.
"We're expecting a lot of people for the weekend," Roberts said. "Almost all of the hotels in the area are booked up and I was able to get some deals for the teams. Everyone has been really supportive. ...I was able to budget for first, second and third place trophies in each age group. Linda Burns at the middle school; Mr. (Neal) Moylan helped at the high school; and John Eastman (Conway Rec.) and Parker (Roberts at Tamworth Rec.) helped me.
"...If everything goes smoothly I hope to do this again next year," she said. "My hope is that younger girls will come and watch and see what's possible if they want to continue to play softball. I'm excited for it — I'm happy to have it come to the area — now all we need is good weather."