Athens will be the site of a pair of tournaments this weekend.
The 8U USSSA Coach Pitch Championships will be held this weekend at Bicentennial Park, formerly called Cooke Park.
There is also the 2020 USA Softball Girls Class A Fast-pitch State Championships, which will be held today, Saturday and Sunday at Athens Regional Park. There will be 21 16U teams from across the state, including Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, and there will be a few local players participating.
Among the teams set to participate are the Tennessee Fury, Knox Angels Elite, Explosion, TN Heat, Maryville Wildcats and Chattanooga Cruisers.
There will also be a number of 14U teams playing in their own state tournament as well.
The softball tournament was set to be played in Crossville, but that park is not opened up yet due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. There could possibly have been a few parks around Chattanooga or Knoxville that could have hosted the tournament, but at this late date it was hard to know exactly what was open and what could adequately host a tournament of this size.
That’s when Athens came into the picture as Athens Parks and Recreation Director Austin Fesmire invited the tournament to the Friendly City.
“Austin kindly welcomed us with open arms,” USA Softball Tournament Director Dwayne Hale said. “That’s a nice park there. They’ve got nice motels and it’s right off the interstate. Austin and his people do a really good job there and we appreciate him opening up their park to us. I’m looking forward to being there.”
Hale said the gate fee is built into the entry fee for the teams so anybody who wants “to come and see some good games” can do so for free. The tournament is expected to start Friday night and continue through Saturday and wrap up on Sunday afternoon, weather permitting.
The coronavirus has surged back across the country in the past week, especially in the South and in the West. Hale and Fesmire said fans should practice social distancing and wear masks.
“We are going to recommend wearing masks and we will have sanitizers,” Hale said. “The question is if they will abide by it. People have been cooped up so much, but we will do our best to maintain social distancing.”
More information about the coach pitch championship could not be obtained before deadline.