The Summit of Softball Complex, which opened in July 2009, has enabled the Chattanooga area to return to prominence as a host for national softball tournaments of all kinds. This September, that list of national tournaments will add another first-time visitor.
USSSA Black American national program director Otis Brumfield is bringing his organization's Black American World Series to the area Sept. 12-15.
An estimated 125-150 adult slowpitch teams are expected to compete in men's and women's classifications, which are divided into competitive and recreational divisions. In addition to The Summit, games also will be played at Camp Jordan Park in East Ridge and the Jack Mattox Complex in Ringgold, Ga.
"The Summit will be our No. 1 venue," says Brumfield, who has been involved in softball as a player, coach or director since 1977. "It's one of the premier sports complexes in the region."
The Black Softball Circuit brought its U C Me Easton Instant Classic to The Summit last May. Greta Hayes, director of recreation for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said a recommendation from BSC President and CEO Clay Dickey helped get the USSSA interested in bringing its Black American World Series to the area.
With its easy interstate connection, Chattanooga's location also helped. Brumfield says most of the participants in the tournament will be from the Southeast United States, but teams also are expected from as far away as New Jersey, Michigan, Texas and even California.
"We have easy access to airports and hotels, and we're also known for our tourism," Hayes says. "Being a tourist destination helps increase numbers of teams. It makes it more appealing."
Shreveport, La., has hosted the USSSA Black American World Series 12 times, one more than Tallahassee, Fla. However, tornadic weather in Shreveport wiped out last year's competition for the first time.
The fact The Summit's fields are equipped with tarps isn't lost on Brumfield.
Also scheduled in 2013 at The Summit is the National Softball Association's Eastern A World Series youth fastpitch tournament, July 21-28. That tournament in 2009 was the first to be held at the complex.
The Amateur Softball Association's 12-under A national youth fastpitch tournament is coming to Chattanooga this July 29-Aug. 4. The BSC Co-Ed World Series adult slowpitch tournament is scheduled Oct. 11-13.
Brumfield said the hospitality displayed by Hayes, supervisor of athletic facilities Ted Broyles and other city staff members, as well as Tim Morgan with the Greater Chattanooga Sports and Events Committee and the directors at the other complexes, is appreciated.
"Greta should get a lot of credit for this," Brumfield says. "She's played the game, and the comfort to me is she knows the wants and needs of the players. Then you have a great support staff that goes and meets those needs and beyond."
Birmingham, Ala., and Orlando, Fla., also have been popular host cities for the USSSA Black American World Series, but neither of those nor Shreveport nor Tallahassee has hosted the tournament in consecutive years. Chattanooga could become the first.
"We're already looking at 2015," Brumfield says. "The BSC had great success there in 2012. We'll re-evaluate after this year. If it benefits everybody and everybody enjoys it, we could lock in for '14 and '15."
Contact staff writer Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6653.