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South Valley Journal

County softball is back

Aug 23, 2021 10:21AM ● By Greg James

The Utah Bullets won the 12-and-under division of the Firecracker tournament held in July. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The Salt Lake County Sports office has hosted its first softball tournaments in nearly 15 months.

“It is like the sun is shining again,” Salt Lake County Parks Program Manager Josh Olmstead said. “These players, families and fans are so excited to be back out here.”

The Valley Complex and Larry H Miller Cottonwood softball complexes held the Firecracker girls accelerated tournament July 15–17. A total of 53 teams competed in five age groups.

“This is a great revenue generator for the county,” Olmstead said. “It brings teams from many different states here to compete.” 

Teams from Montana, Washington, Idaho and California participated in the tournament. 

Winners in the five age groups were the Grantsville Shock, Utah Bullets, Utah Crush, Force and Bad to the Bone. These teams will play 50–75 games a year including these tournaments.

Girls accelerated softball is played by over four million athletes across the country. Teams in Utah play in several leagues and tournaments almost every weekend. The USSSA is considered the largest sanctioning body in the United States.

To compete at the national championship, a team must earn a spot in a qualifier tournament. A girls fastpitch team may compete in several tournaments to prepare for the opportunity to qualify. 

The county also hosted the USSSA softball state finals and will hold the Copper Classic in September. 

“Teams like to come here,” Olmstead said. “Our fields are nice to play on and the county has lots of opportunities for the teams to vacation.” 

The Larry H. Miller Cottonwood Complex has finished its recent renovation. The fans seating area is now covered with a system to keep cool. All the dugouts are covered and there is a picnic area at the top of the seating complex.

“It is state-of-the-art now,” Olmstead said. “Everyone needs to go and check it out.” 

The Larry H. Miller charities donated $5 million to rebuild both the Cottonwood Complex and Valley Region Softball Complex in Taylorsville. The Cottonwood facility opened this season and construction at Valley will begin later this fall.

“Larry was passionate about softball, and this complex will forever be a part of our family’s legacy,” Gail Miller said at the press conference announcing the donation in 2019. 

Salt Lake County also began its men’s, women’s and coed softball leagues this month. Its 15-month postponement has players itching to get back on the field.

“I think it is even more popular,” Olmstead said. “People are ready to get out and play again. I came out to Taylorsville Days, and there were people everywhere, and I could feel this sigh of relief that it was time to get outside and be with our friends again.”