Olympic gold medalist puts on clinic tonight in advance of NJCAA national softball tourney

Butler, Kan. vs. Chipola, Fla., NJCAA Division I Softball National Championship Game, May 21, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Sixteen Division I Junior College regional champions will charge into St. George and vie for a national title during the 2017 National Junior College Association Division I Softball Championship, May 17-20 at the Canyons Complex. St. George has hosted the prestigious double-elimination tournament since 2009 and recently won the bid to host the tournament here for another three years. That agreement runs through 2020.

“We like hosting this tournament because it broadens our reach and visibility among those who follow youth fastpitch,” said Steven Bingham, Recreation Manager for the City of St. George. “Many young local athletes participate in softball, and this tournament affords them and their parents the opportunity to watch a very advanced level of play.”

Leah O’Brien Amico

To get things started, May 15 at 5 p.m., 3-time Olympian and gold medalist Leah O’Brien-Amico will conduct a clinic for girls in kindergarten to 8th grade. The cost is $5 and includes one tournament pass. A home run derby will follow.

“For our young athletes to see Leah and her gold medals up close can provide inspiration for dreams, which leads to goal setting, hard work and healthy activities,” Bingham added.

Defending national champion Butler (Kansas) is ranked No. 1 and appears poised to qualify again for the World Series. Butler has an impressive record at 53-1. No. 2 Salt Lake Community College (47-6), a perennial participant in the NJCAA World Series, is also favored to contend.

Chipola (Fla.) vs. NE Oklahoma A&M, NJCAA Championship at The Canyons, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Action begins May 17 with eight games, followed by eight more May 18. A championship game is slated for noon May 20, with the possibility of an “if-necessary game” to follow.

The tournament brings a significant quantity of visitors to the St. George area. Bingham said last year more than 1,700 visitors spent an average of 5.25 days in town.

“Every year, the St. George City recreation team organizes an outstanding tournament,” said Kevin Lewis, Director of the St. George Area Sports Commission. “The teams come for the softball, and they leave enchanted with the beauty of the area and the thrill of participating in a national event run by one of the most successful tournament organizations in the country.”

“There is a lot of competition to host these major tournaments,” added Lewis, “but every time this tournament goes out to bid, the NJCAA selection committee seems to recognize what a good thing we have going here. The fact that we’ve been awarded the bid for 12 straight years says a lot about our ability to do it right.”

Spectators can purchase tickets in advance online at https://www.sgcity.org/njcaa and at the St. George Recreation Center (285 South 400 East). Once the tournament begins, tickets will be available only at the Canyons Complex. Here’s the bracket.

DISTRICT

REGION(S)

 CHAMPION

RECORD

STATE

A

1

Central Arizona 50-9 AZ

B

2, 23

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 42-8 OK

C

5W

Howard College 46-12 TX

D

5N

North Central Texas 41-24 TX

E

6, 9

Bulter Community College 53-1  KS

F

7

Chattanooga State Community College 44-11 TN

G

8

Florida Southwestern State College 60-5 FL

H

8

Chipola College 57-6 FL

I

10, 15, 20, *22

Snead State 30-39  AL

J

11, 16

Indian Hills 29-14 IA

K

14

San Jacinto – South College  40-19 TX

L

14

Tyler Junior College 50-17  TX

M

17

Georgia Military College 46-15 GA

N

18

Salt Lake Community College 47-6  UT

O

22

Wallace State Community College – Hanceville 38-16  AL

P

24

Lake Land College 54-12 IL

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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