Junior Softball World Series will welcome 6,000 people and ESPN to city
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
August 13, 2012 · Updated 9:58 AM
The Junior Softball World Series (JSWS) is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Kirkland. Nine fast-pitch teams from all over the world will play at Everest Park Sunday through Saturday. But one team will be attempting to defend their home turf.
“Kirkland has been the host team five or six years,” said JSWS tournament director John Chadwick. “But they have never won it.”
The host team is the first in a while to be solely comprised of players from the Kirkland American and Kirkland National Little Leagues. Other host teams have come from the surrounding area, such as Bellevue or Redmond.
The JSWS is part of the national Little League organization and this will be its 14th year in Kirkland.
The semifinals and finals are broadcast live on ESPN.
“When most people think of the Little League World Series they think of Williamsport, Penn.,” said Chadwick. “But that is only for one age group.”
Williamsport plays host to the 12-year-old boys of the Little League organization. In all, there are eight different world series for each age group of Little League baseball and softball.
“There are more people playing at that age group than any other so they get more sponsorships,” said Chadwick, about the attention paid to the tournament in Williamsport.
The same goes for girls softball. But the popularity of the sport is more spread throughout the age groups. And while the 12-year-old girls’ teams play in Portland, Ore., the juniors, or 13- and 14-year-old age group, come to Kirkland.
The event will bring teams from Canada, Latin America, Europe and East Africa. The event this year will be one team smaller as Asia Pacific is not able to attend. But it is the first year the event will play host to a team from the Czech Republic.
In all, 24 games will be played during the week and the host team is guaranteed to play five games. The host team is comprised of Katie Adams, Kara Phillips, Gianna Paribello, Brynn Radke, Tatum Kawabata, Katie Erickson, Alex Hanger, Hannah Walker, Lisa Nelson, Tori Bivens, Juliana Lynch, Kristina Warford and Natalie Vetto, with coaches Phil Phillips and Tim Nelson. The Kirkland team is managed by Nolan Radke.
The event is big business for the City of Kirkland, as it will bring an estimated 6,100 people to the city, with 1,500 attending the final day of games. The city supports the event with $6,000 from lodging taxes. In return, Chadwick estimates that the event will generate 1,202 room nights in local hotels and $15,800 spent at Kirkland restaurants.
“It is one of the events that generate dollars from tourism - more so than any other,” said City of Kirkland Economic Development Manager Ellen Miller-Wolfe. “And we fund it at a relatively low level.”
The event will deal with a major traffic issue this year. The City of Kirkland will completely close 108th Ave. N.E. at N.E. 53rd Street to traffic in all directions for up to ten consecutive days starting Aug. 14. A second road closer at the intersection of Railroad Ave. and Kirkland Ave., which was not scheduled to open in time, has been completed early. Railroad Ave. is one of two main thoroughfares to the park.
But no matter how teams get to the park, the Kirkland team is hoping to leave with the trophy.
Opening day of the Junior Softball World Series is Sunday at noon. The championship playoffs will be held Aug. 18, at 2 p.m. and broadcast by ESPN. For more information visit www.jrsoftballworldseries.com.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.