Girls softball teams from all over the country, and even from Canada, made their first stop in Crown Point on Monday night. The World's Fastest Pitch "B" Series started the week of competitions that culminated into a parade and block party at the city's town square.
236 teams, to be exact, joined the celebrations. A year long season determined whether or not the teams would make the journey to Crown Point.
Bill Horton, Northern Vice President of the National Softball Association explained the the week long series of events, "It started out with events at the park, went on from there, we had a couple of meetings and now it's all ended at what I call the block party. They qualify throughout the year to get here and it's a big event for them."
Crown Point couldn't be happier to have them here. This large event - that made $1.3 million dollars of revenue for Northwest Indiana - only meant good things for its host city. Crown Point Mayor David Uran said that the week long event, "Opens the doors to people to experience real Hoosier hospitality".
Uran also went on to explain that Crown Point was the perfect destination for the event, "I truly believe that with our beautiful downtown and the many sports complexes that we have at hand that Crown Point is the premiere destination to play amateur sports in Northwest Indiana."
CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Speros Batistatos agreed, "The reason why the National Softball Association is back a second time in six years is that Crown Point does it right. We wouldn't be here without the cooperation of people like the mayor who walk the walk and talk the talk. They are the believers in what is happening and this could not be successful without them."
The teams showed their excitement as they walked around the square before the party started. Dressed up in their colorful uniforms, the teams and their coaches chanted their way around the historic courthouse. The coaches themselves, though, couldn't of been more proud of their teams.
Deon Dittmare, coach for the Indiana Lazers from Warsaw said that this was their second World Series, "I knew what to expect from before but it's been tremendous. The team worked really hard to get here tonight and I'm glad we're able to stay within the state of Indiana."
It was the Lazer's first trip to Crown Point, but they enjoyed their week long stay.
"It's great - it's really beautiful. Everyone who put this together like the mayor and the SSCVA have done a wonderful job," Dittmare said.
Daija Williams, Zoie Rettig, Jenna Eiernate, and Alli Kritel, who are all from Crown Point, said that having the world series at home couldn't be better.
"Traveling in cars is so annoying. Last year we went to Tennessee and that was a long trip," Rettig explained.
They said that overall the parade around the square was the best part of the night.
"I felt like I was famous," Rettig also said.
In the end the night ended perfectly for all of the girls. As soon as the DJ started his long line of songs like the Cha-Cha Slide, and the Cupid Shuffle hundreds of softball players and their teammates flooded to the street in front of the courthouse to dance the night away. There were also bounce houses, rock climbing walls, inflated balls to run in, and vendors selling t-shirts for the World Series. To top it all of there were fireworks just after dusk to send the night out with a bang.
The night was summed up perfectly by Denis Schwantner, who works for NSA and traveled all the way up from Missouri, by saying, "Tonight is an experience they'll probably never have for the rest of their lives."
That statement held true to all of the parents, coaches, friends and teams who made the Softball World Series the place to be on a perfect July night.