Welcome to the 7th Annual
WMS Championship Tournament
|There was a time, not too long ago, when the most anticipated event of the summer season was the ASA Women's Major Softball national tournament. It was the crown jewel of ASA tournament offerings and on numerous occasions it was staged In Stratford, CT, at the long-vacant Raybestos Memorial Field and beginning in 1993 at DeLuca Field. Teams had to qualify (not too many of us remember that) from one of 16 regional tournaments. What began as an 18-team event - regional champs, defending champion, and host team - blossomed into a 28-team championship at its zenith.
Then something happened to change everything. Softball suddenly became an Olympic sport and the USOC threw millions in the direction of Oklahoma City and ASA's National Office. Very little, if any, of the funds trickled down to the grass roots level, or club teams, that had built the tournament into the coveted gem it had become. Soon the importance of the long-standing eight-day nationals dwindled and it morphed into a glorified slow pitch weekend. While ASA sponsored its top-flight Olympic all-star squad, and a junior team to spar with it in preparation for the various world tournaments each year, rules pertaining to the nationals either disappeared or simply weren't enforced. No longer did teams need to qualify. Just put an all-star team together and go. No need to have verifiable rosters that conformed to the various cut-off dates listed in the thick ASA Rule Book. It got to the point that even the state and metro commissioners didn't attend (that was one of their perks). No travel fund to help the teams, no tournament social to recognize the hard work it took to reach the tournament, and often no crowds and no publicity.
It wasn't until after the rain-shortened 2008 tournament in Buffalo that something was done. Feeling as though the tournament committee (directed by the ASA National rep) had called the tourney rather than wait out the day for the fields to become playable, they opted to declare a winner with two teams still alive in the loser's bracket, including the Brakettes. That never happened at Raybestos Field! It was on that eight-hour van ride back to Connecticut that the idea for the Women's Major Softball National Championship tournament was conceived. With input from several of the 2008 participants, two of whom are in this year's seventh annual WMS classic, the idea became reality in 2009.
We have put together a tournament that is once again team and player friendly, said WMS Director Bob Baird, also the general manager of the Brakettes. We have taken the things that made the ASA tournament a treat for everyone and incorporated them into the WMS." Baird and Brakettes Manager John Stratton, the co-author of the WMS, have constantly tweaked the tournament to make it the most memorable event of the season for all of the participants and keep Stratford's claim as the Softball Capital of the World alive and thriving.
There are 11 teams entered in this year's tournament, which will be played at Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame Field and the Short Beach Rec Complex, from August 6-9. Everyone is guaranteed four games and no team will be eliminated before Saturday. In addition to the five-time defending champion Brakettes, the field includes the inaugural 2009 WMS winner, the NYC Havoc, which returns to play following a two-year hiatus. Four-time runner-up St. Louis Saints return for the sixth time, while the talented Lyons, PA, Spirit is the only other team to have played in all seven WMS Nationals. The Mass Pride, Dutchess Debs , Queens Lady Rangers, Team Connecticut, CT Eliminators, CT Seahawks, and Stratford Breakers complete the field.
All tournament games at DeLuca Field will be video webcast on the Brakettes network. Go to www.brakettes.com and click onto the link.
Bob Baird, General Manager, Stratford Brakettes