It hadn’t hit 8:30 a.m. Friday morning yet, but you could tell it was a summer softball day starting at Jack C. Fisher Park.
The four Kentucky Legend Fields at Fisher Park had plenty of action during the NSA North Central World Series softball tournament. It was a fastball tournament with age groups including 8U, 10U, 12U, 14U and 16U. There were teams from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri as well as one from New York in this World Series.
On the back of the Ducks jerseys, there were no player names but the We>Me symbols. There was a team called the Stingers, a team called Kryptonite.
The activity was certainly not limited to the fields either. Near the batting cages were coaches and dads throwing pitches at their kids, trying to time their swings.
“It was a home run right there, it was a home run,” a pitching parent told the batter who hit a ball hard and high in the air.
On the other side, pitchers were throwing to their receivers, trying to find the perfect sweet spot.
There was a coach in one of the dugouts between innings asking his players in the middle of a tough game if they were ready to go home, and they individually said they weren’t finished yet . Then another coach told them “you have to put the sticks on”.
Within an hour, the heat was rising a bit and there were more teams arriving at Fisher Park, going to find more open spaces to warm up and get ready for games.
It started on Wednesday with 35 teams and will continue through the weekend with championships decided on Sunday.
This NSA World Series was the second consecutive major national-level event for Kentucky Legend Fields. Last weekend there was a USSSA Class A Baseball World Series in Fisher Park. This event had 34 teams in OBKY.
Of course, hotels have been busier this week and last. Owensboro-Daviess County always knows how to make these events meaningful for kids. There was a small parade for NSA teams in conjunction with Friday After Five and an awards ceremony at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame for their skills competition.
“Friday After Five has been a fantastic partner for us with these events, and it’s been a great experience for the teams as well,” said Chris Gendek, director of sports management and destination development for Visit Owensboro.
There were good crowds this week at Fisher Park, and that was important given that high gas prices and inflation weighed on many budgets for travel teams. Some of these teams are more selective about where they have played this summer. As it was a national level tournament, there was more than one draw.
The NSA will be back for a third year next summer, and sports tour groups are looking for more elite-level tournaments to play at Fisher Park.
“We’re working with Bryson Morrow at the Parks and Recreation Department to find more places for more elite-level tournaments that want to come here,” Gendek said. There are also new summer tournament organizers who want to play at Fisher Park, and work is underway to try to accommodate them. Morrow is Fisher Park’s facilities manager.
Fisher Park has been training for the past few weeks with World Series softball and youth baseball events. It didn’t seem to bother the Friday morning exercise.