Colorado Hosts Travel Softball Mega-Event

3000+ Games Attract Hundreds of College Recruiters

By TSC Contributor KEVIN KAGE

DENVER – Everyone knows that California and Arizona are hotbeds of fastpitch softball, but Colorado? Who knew? Last week over 700 travel softball teams from 30 states arrived in the Denver metro area to participate in the largest fastpitch event in the US.

Between the Fireworks, Sparkler, and Sparkler Juniors tournaments a total of 3,054 games were played over a five-day period on 133 fields in Aurora, Westminster, Greeley and Loveland. Age groups ranged from 12U to 18U.

The lure of seeing so many talented players in one spot competing ferociously for a coveted title is irresistible to college coaches, many from top Division I programs, who flock to the event by the hundreds to scout and recruit their favorites. Amongst the notables this year was Patty Gasso, who last month coached the Oklahoma Sooners to a national title.

The magnitude of this “happening” did not escape the eyes of network executives. The CBS Sports Network—available in 99 million homes across the country through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DirecTV and Dish Network—broadcast the Colorado Fireworks and Sparkler tournaments nationwide in high definition.
The distinguished broadcast team consisted of Thad Anderson (play-by-play), Michele Smith (analyst), Monica Abbott (analyst) and Amanda Scarborough (dugout reporter).
In the first game on Wednesday night the #6-ranked Impact Gold from Burke, Texas faced off against the #2-ranked Firecrackers from Rico, California in what was billed as a Top-10 18U showdown. On Thursday night the first game featured the Futures 14U Championship followed by the 16U Power Pool Championship.   

National television exposure has helped elevate Colorado’s stature within the softball community, giving momentum to the notion that—helped by improvements in indoor softball facilities—teams from colder climates are finally catching up competitively to those from the West Coast and Texas.   

That dream is helping spread the popularity of fastpitch across America. Read more.