And the event is flat-out blossoming for 2017, with a nearly-sold-out slate of teams heading to Austin, TX, from July 10-13 for the sixth annual championship test, produced by Triple Crown Sports.
Right at 180 teams are booked for the trip to the Live Music Capital of the nation for this deeply competitive, invite-only summer showdown, where the 18u and 16u title games again will be broadcast by ESPN3. Tournament officials use point totals from US Club Rankings and a mix of at-large berths to build the schedule, which features America’s heavyweight programs and thus draws a significant number of college coaches looking to restock their future rosters.
“The 2017 TC/USA Nationals will be an extremely competitive tournament in each age division. We have representation from 28 different states with the biggest draw from the hotbeds of softball (California, Texas and Georgia),” said Krista Crawford, tournament director. “College coaches will definitely find top talent at this tournament. Also, Austin is a desirable location to go, and the city will be a great host when the teams are not playing ball. Players, coaches, family and fans will be sure to gain memories that will last a lifetime.”
Seven of the top 10 teams in the 18u rankings, and 12 of the top 15, are heading to TC/USA Nationals:
#2: So Cal Athletics – Richardson
#4: Beverly Bandits – Demarini
#5: Birmingham Thunderbolts
#6: EC Bullets – Schnute
#8: Texas Blaze Gold – Slimp (2016 TC/USA National Champion)
#9: Texas Bombers Gold
#10: Texas Glory – Shelton
16u squads to watch include:
Beverly Bandits – Demarini
Diamond Sports Hotshots South
Aces Express Futures
Texas Glory – Naudin
So Cal Athletics – Briggs
Sorcerers – Gabales
14u teams in the mix:
Norcal Firecrackers Baisdom
Oklahoma Exclusive Gold
Texas Dirt Divas
Last year’s 18u TC/USA champion, Texas Blaze Gold, made the most of their “bucket list” trip to New York City with their title run, fortified by a seasoned group of high-school seniors who were playing their best at the right time.
“The team played well throughout the tournament. The (Platinum bracket) win against the Firecrackers was the first time in the club’s history we got to play Rico’s team, and we were excited going in to play a team that’s been around so long and done so well,” said Blaze coach and recruiting coordinator, JB Slimp. “That one went down to the wire, and knowing there would be TV airtime (in the title game) was fun for the kids. We had a tremendous experience.
“The lineup on the (2017) Who’s Coming list looks amazing. It’s always exciting when you’re getting to play national-level talent. Our team strives to play as many of the top teams in the country as we can. This will be the first time we will play this many elite teams from around the country right in our backyard. It’s a great feeling; we’re defending the title, and that makes it more special. This is a neat way for it all to come together in 2017.”
The Demarini Aces out of Kansas are bringing 18u and 14u teams to TC/USA Nationals; their highly skilled roster includes players from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the chance to show what they can do in this demanding setting has energized all involved.
“I think it’s all about the quality teams coming, and the kind of event Krista puts together; how she formats it is really great,” said head coach Ryan Taylor. “To be traveling, we want to make sure we get excellent competition, and that’s the thing that got us in. Our 18s have players (already) signed to play in the SEC and Pac-12; our 14s are very talented, and for them it’s going to be great to see so many excelleny teams and see (how 14u teams attract) college coaches.
“Each week, we try to prepare for a challenge, to compete and finish as high as we can. The event comes in the middle of the summer, when we should be playing well – that’s the expectation. With an event like this, with such a national feel, we want to be one of the ones standing at the end of the tournament.”
For more information on the TC/USA Nationals, click HERE or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org