For many people who visit Alabama’s beaches in the summer, their most athletic activity is tossing a Frisbee around. However, others making it to Baldwin County have much more ambitious schedules.
The Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission is expecting more than 800 baseball and 200 softball teams to take part in the United States Specialty Sports Association’s Global Sports World Series. The action starts this week and continues through August.
“For eight years running, the Sports Commission has hosted USSSA along with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and we look forward to welcoming each player, coach, family and fan to our beach destination,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Sports Commission. “As we continue to grow the diversity of athletic events in the area, we will host a wide range of tournaments this summer including baseball, softball, soccer, dance, fishing, grappling and paddleboarding.”
The USSSA was originally the U.S. Slow-Pitch Softball Association, but in 1998 it rebranded and expanded to add girls’ fast-pitch softball and boys’ baseball. The nonprofit sports governing body now oversees 13 sports in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and various U.S. military bases.
The 2016 summer games will take place at the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley sportsplexes. The Global World Series 1 took place June 15-19, with approximately 40 teams participating, including the Fairhope Pirates, Triple Threat from Gulf Shores, Flora Bama Marlins from Orange Beach.
Other USSSA events will be the Coach Pitch World Series, June 21-25; Global World Series 2, June 22-25; Global World Series 3, June 29-July 1; Global World Series 4, July 6-9; Recreation World Series Softball Tournament, July 6-9; Global World Series 5, July 13-16; Softball C World Series, July 20-23; and Global World Series 6, July 20-23.
The Sports Commission reported recordbreaking numbers as a result of USSSA events in 2015. The group estimates 53,111 room nights and $50.8 million in economic impact resulted from the games.
The Sports Commission is a partnership between Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. For information on all the upcoming athletic events along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, visit www.GulfShores.com/Sports/Media-Room or call 800-745-SAND (7263).
Baseball squad heading to Florida
A local under-14 baseball team has been selected to play in the Elite World Series. The Mobile Baysox will travel to the Disney Wide World of Sports facility in Orlando during July.
“This group of young men was selected given their passion displayed for the game at an early age,” Lamar Cowart, one of the coaches, said. “Our initial goal was to teach the game of baseball and provide them the tools they needed as they advanced in their middle and high school teams, and possibly even further. It’s safe to say this group of young men has exceeded our expectations.”
Since the program started in 2010, the Baysox have won 17 tournaments and finished second in four others. They have won the USSSA state championship twice in the last three seasons.
Several members of the team competed in the Mobile County Middle School Championship (five from Faith Academy, three from Causey Middle School). Three players are part of the junior varsity at St. Paul’s Episcopal. One other player made the varsity at McGill-Toolen Catholic as a freshman pitcher.
The Elite World Series will include 32 teams from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The seven-day event takes place at the spring training facilities of the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros.
To help cover travel expenses, a fundraiser is set for June 28 at Bishop’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard (the former Baumhower’s Wings), where the owner is offering 10 percent of that day’s sales to the team. The Baysox are also raffling two Yeti coolers ($5 per ticket, six for $20), and the winner will be announced that night.
For additional information, follow the team via Facebook by searching “Baysox Nation” or by contacting Cowart at 251-654-1057.
USA track stars named All-Americans
The University of South Alabama track team did quite well at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Jan-Low Kotze was first-team All-American after finishing sixth in the men’s discus (59.38 meters). Earning second-team honors were Renaldo Frechou in the men’s hammer throw (16th place, 65.66 meters) and Kaitlyn Beans in the women’s triple jump (13th place, 12.98 meters).
Kotze, a senior majoring in exercise science and psychology with a 4.0 GPA, was the recipient of the Elite 90 award prior to the finals. It recognizes “the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers.”
Local swimmers make a splash
Six members of the City of Mobile Swim Association have qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to be held in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3. This is the only selection meet for the international team competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The trials will be televised on the NBC sports networks.
The youngest member of the squad is Paige Madden, a rising senior at UMS-Wright. She is entered in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle plus the 200-meter backstroke. Madden is a two-time junior champion in the National Club Swimming Association in the 400- and 500-meter freestyle.
Collegians on the Mobile team are Will Glass (UMS-Wright; 100- and 200-meter backstroke, 100- and 200-meter butterfly) and P.J. Dunne (Gulf Breeze; 50-, 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyle) from the University of Texas; Marlin Brutkiewicz (UMS-Wright; 100- and 200-meter breaststroke) from the U.S. Naval Academy; Ashton Ellzey (Baker; 50-meter freestyle) and Russell Noletto (McGill-Toolen; 400-meter freestyle) from Auburn; and Carl Madden (UMS-Wright; 400-meter freestyle) from Alabama.
“Competing at this level is what swimmers dream of, and for them to reach this level is a great achievement. No matter how they swim, it will be a great experience,” said Greg Davis, who has served as the head coach of the City of Mobile Swim Association since 2009. In 2015, the group was named a USA Swimming Silver Medal team, ranking it as one of the top 100 programs in the country for the third straight year.