Greater Williamsburg is set hosting one of the most significant youth softball tournaments to hit the area in recent years from July 17-21 when the National Softball Association Class A Eastern World Series descends on Kiwanis and Quarterpath Parks.
More than 85 teams and 1,400 athletes from 10 states will compete in an event expected to generate an estimated $2 million for the local economy, according to Lisa Pacheco, the director of sports for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance.
"This is a huge national event that we are very lucky to be hosting," Pacheco said.
Action kicked off Monday morning and will conclude with the championships Friday afternoon at Kiwanis.
Williamsburg previously hosted the NSA Class B tournaments in 2013-14, but the Class A tournament is a first for the area.
The Class A Eastern World Series is one of seven similar NSA events, including Class B and C tournaments, scheduled for July around the country. The other hosts are Northwest Indiana; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Clearwater Beach, Fla.; Wenatchee, Wash.; Prescott, Ariz.; Reno/Sparks, Nev.
Multiple local teams will participate in the tournament that ranges in age groups from 10-and-under to 18-and-under including four from Williamsburg Starz Gold, two from Jamestown Mayhem and one from York County-based Bay River Rumble.
Unlike some of the regional tournaments that regularly visit Greater Williamsburg, especially throughout the summer, this one will feature teams coming from farther away than usual; teams will travel from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina clubs make out the remainder of the field.
From an economic standpoint, tourism officials welcome fast-pitch softball tournaments. "What we have found is girls tend to spend more money so it's a great economic impact for our destination," Pacheco said. "We're excited that they're going to be out and in town spending money visiting local businesses with their families as well as local attractions and dining."
Frank Rachubka is the state NSA director, a Class A Eastern World Series tourney organizer as well as a NSA Hall of Fame member that lives in Williamsburg and has been involved with the sport locally since 1999.
"It's a tremendous economic impact. That's the bottom line," Rachubka said. "What it also does (for the future) is brings people back to the area… They're coming from all over."
The field will not be as voluminous as the Class B tournaments that brought more than 150 teams, but the level of play will be advanced since this is the Class A tourney.
Rachubka expects some of the older teams to feature their share of college recruits and anticipates a repeat of what he said were successful Class B tournaments staged here earlier this decade.
"It was successful then," Rachubka said. "I know this one will be as well."
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.
NSA Class A Eastern World Series
at Kiwanis/Quarterpath parks
Championships scheduled for afternoon of July 21 at Kiwanis