Kickoff event includes hall of fame All-Star game and homerun derby
BY DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Softball fans can warm up for the 32nd Dudley Budweiser Easton Classic National Invitational Tournament, June 20-22 in Brooklyn Center and Crystal by attending a kickoff event Thursday, June 19.
The top four teams in the nation at the top level in the sport are entered in the field of 29, playing against local players and teams.
Laservision/H.Auto/JJ’s/Easton is ranked No. 1 in Conference USSSA. The team is 41-3 after recently ending a 35-game win streak, losing 35-34 at the Chicago tournament. Sponsors are from New York and Minnesota.
Defending Minnesota tournament champion Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth based in Florida is 27-7, ranked No. 2 in the national conference.
Backman/Shoppe/Louisville Slugger from Indiana and Team Combat/Softball.com from Washington are the other Major teams that are close behind in the chase to qualify for the USSSA Softball World Series. Points are earned at the NIT events.
Tourney action starts at 5 p.m. Friday, June 20 at the Centennial Fields located in Central park behind the Brooklyn Center Community Center, Highway 694 and Shingle Creek Parkway. Games also will be played at Evergreen Park next to BC high school and Becker Park in Crystal, County Road 81 and Bass Lake Road.
Play resumes at 8 a.m. Saturday with games often running late into the evening. Three games could be played Sunday morning with the title game set for 10 a.m. with the if game to follow about 1 p.m. in the double elimination format. Local teams will be aided by the implementation of home run limits depending on class matchups.
The first Dudley Classic kickoff event runs from 6 a.m. to midnight at Central park. Events include two All-Star games and a homerun derby featuring 64 players. Admission is free and food venders will be on hand.
First up is the Minnesota Hall of Fame game, a chance to bring back some of the state’s finest players, coaches, sponsors, umpires and league directors. Teams are named Team Stanchfield and Team Sherer to honor two Minnesota USSSA Hall of Famers who have passed away, Pat Stanchfield and Warren Sherer.
The second All-Star game features players from Minnesota teams that are part of Conference USSSA against other in-state All-Stars. Local Conference teams are H.Auto LLC/Easton/Hooters MOA and Xtreme/Miken, both class B teams. H.Auto based in Le Sueur is ranked sixth in the Conference standings.
Local favorites and some of the Conference “big boys” will show off their hitting power at the homerun derby. The event was organized by Scott Brown, Pat O’Connell and Warren Bellm. Mike Beardsley helped select the non-conference All-Star team.
“The reason this kickoff was put into place with to promote this amazing tournament,” said Beardsley from Champlin, who has a softball radio show called Softball Central on an internet station called Sizzlin 99.9 from 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday. “This is also put together to honor Minnesota’s great softball tradition. We also are doing this to thank the great fans of softball in Minnesota for their generosity and support over the years.”
Fans are invited to bring food items for the local CEAP food shelf. A raffle will include a water trampoline called Wow Air Jump. Information about the kickoff and Dudley tourney can be found on Minnesota Softball Message Board on Facebook.
Some selected Dudley tournament games will be streamed live on ESPN3 including winner’s bracket semifinals at 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, winner’s bracket final at 6 p.m. Saturday, loser’s bracket final at 8:30 a.m. Sunday and title game at around 10 a.m.
Tourney and USSSA Conference information can be found on www.usssa.com.