Gerald Wright Classic draws top teams to West Valley
Jul 28, 2017 01:55PM
● By Greg James
The Earthquakes’ pitcher fires a strike in the 10 and under division of the Gerald Wright Classic. (Greg James/City Journals)
West Valley has become the home of one of the premier recreational girls fast pitch softball tournaments. Several teams from around the Wasatch Front converged to participate this season.
“These are all recreational teams that come from organized rec centers or beginner leagues. We had teams from Vernal, Duchesne and Rock Springs this year. The teams are preparing for the recreational state tournament by playing as many games as they can. We accept as many teams as we can get,” tournament director Scott Carrell said. “It is fun to see the girls get excited for how they have done.”
In five age groups, 54 teams and approximately 650 players entered the Gerald Wright Classic this summer. The teams began three-game pool play June 30, and were then seeded into a double elimination tournament that ended July 1.
The tournament was originally named the West Valley Bonnet Ball tournament and began nearly 20 years ago. They changed the name in 2011 to honor the late West Valley Mayor Gerald Wright.
The classic has become one of the largest summer recreation tournaments held along the Wasatch Front. Other tournaments include the Dash ‘n Splash in Grantsville and the Oquirrh Mountain Invitational in South Jordan.
The money raised from the tournament covers the cost of running the tournament and teams from the West Valley Fastpitch girls league enter other tournaments and pay their costs. Volunteers run concessions and help with field maintenance.
“We have done this long enough that it all comes together. West Valley City and the Parks Department are really able to help us put it together. It has been a great tournament. It has been around for a long time. All of the volunteers that help are great. It is fun for the girls,” Carrell said.
West Valley Fastpitch Softball is a recreational girls softball league. The league’s goal is to create an environment that girls can learn softball skills, sportsmanship and have a positive experience. After the regular spring recreation season, WVFP selects coaches and players to participate in all-star competition during the summer.
All-star selection means an intense softball experience. They will play in at least two tournaments and practice several times a week. It culminates with recreation state tournament Aug. 10-12 in Orem.
The 8 and under West Valley team placed fourth in the Gerald Wright Classic, the 10 and under team fifth.
The tournament champions were; 8u- Heat’08, 10u-Storm, 12u- American Made, 14u- Fireballs and 18u- Anarchy.
“The West Valley teams are pretty young. I know the league had a successful season this year. I volunteer to help organize the tournament even though I do not have any girls playing,” Carrell said.
Carrell coaches at Hillcrest High School and said participation in girls softball is a good thing for girls.
Participation in girls high school sports increased nationally for the 27th consecutive year, according to National Federation of State High School Sports. More than three million girls played high school sports in the 2015-16 season. Softball is the fourth most popular sport behind basketball, track and field and volleyball.
“The confidence that the players get in all aspects of softball translates into life. The benefits are numerous, the relationships and things you can learn for the future. I think softball is nothing but a positive thing for girls,” Carrell said.