World Series players fill up Valley

For the past two weeks, the Yampa Valley has been inundated with out-of-state visitors, who have filled area ball park parking lots with cars from Texas, Nebraska and California.

The influx of out-of-staters, and in-staters from all over, is caused by the Triple-Crown organization and its World Series Tournaments.

The Triple-Crown baseball World Series has run for the past two weeks, and now it's time for fast-pitch softballs.

"There are 109 teams from nine states playing in the Fast Pitch World Series," said Bill Pilcher, Triple-Crown's Fast Pitch Softball organizer. "There could have been some more teams which could have come to the tournament, but in many cases they couldn't make it because of the travel involved."

The nine main states involved with the World Series are California, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan.

Unlike the Triple-Crown Baseball World Series, the Fast Pitch World Series will not be spread across two weeks. It will run for five consecutive days.

The tournament started Wednesday, and will conclude with the championship game Sunday at the Howlsen Hill Softball Complex. Craig, Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Oak Creek all host games, but there are no teams from Craig participating in the tournament.

The Triple-Crown's Fast Pitch Softball is run according to the Amateur Softball Association's rules, with a few modifications.

"We haven't really changed any major rules, just some modifications for the Triple-Crown," Pilcher said. "For instance, we allow any nine players in the field and they can be substituted at any time and can return at any time. Changes like that just allow for more players to get into the game."

The Triple-Crown's World Series Tournament is held in the Yampa Valley, in part, because the founder of the organization is a local boy. Dave King, the founder of Triple-Crown, is originally from Meeker.

It is not just because King is familiar with the area that the tournaments are held here, it is also what the area provides that makes it attractive. A dry climate was able to dry off the fields after Wednesday's rain showers, leaving the players and their families from Tacoma Wash., slack-jawed and saying, "This would have never happened back home."

"The whole area has a resort feel to it, which makes it somewhat like a vacation for the families who travel in for the tournaments," King said. "In fact, it is the second-largest economical influx in Steamboat Springs next to ski season."

The economic boost is not only felt at the foot of Rabbit Ears, but in Craig as well. Many of Craig's hotels, motels and campgrounds are swollen with ball players and their families.

"The Triple-Crown is probably one of our top five bookings of the year," said Mikki O'Brien, general manager of Craig's Holiday Inn. "We've been sold out the past two weeks, and we're booked solid for the next two weeks."

O'Brien said that a single team will book six to 12 rooms apiece, and stay four to seven nights depending on how well the team fares in the tournament.

"The only thing that gets the Triple-Crown players out of their rooms early is if they lose," she said.

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