The Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce feels it put together a pretty good softball tournament. And the people associated with it aren't the only ones who feel that way.
"This is great," said Matt Magnuson, a member of the Young Guns softball team from New Castle. "Usually we have to go to Denver or Grand Junction for tournaments. This is nice, because we get to sleep in our own beds, and it's a good thing for the community, too."
Granted, the Western Slope Softball Tournament of Champions wasn't a huge draw in it's inaugural running. Six men's teams made up the triple-elimination tournament, which spanned this past Friday and Saturday at the Deerfield Park softball complex.
The chamber, however, feels it was a good start to what it hopes will be a tournament four times this size when they put it together next year.
"Our plan is to have 24 teams by the time we put this thing together next year," said Gina Reece-Long, the chamber's event coordinator. "Our plan this year was to simply get this thing off the ground."
The Young Guns, along with a team from Rifle called the Edge, were joined by four Grand Junction-area teams who traveled to Rifle for the weekend tournament. The Grand Junction teams came away as the winners, as the Stickmen posted a 16-7 victory in the tournament championship game over Colorado Customs. Another Grand Junction team, Gonzalez Construction, finished third.
There was a little monetary incentive for the teams, too. The Stickmen earned a $500 team prize for winning the tournament, with second- and third-place prizes totaling $350 and $150, respectively.
The chamber's big goal, however, was accomplished. The out-of-town teams stayed in the area over the weekend, as the event drew out-of-town softball players into area businesses. Reece-Long said her efforts to recruit teams to the tournament also recruited some helpers, as some area softball players volunteered to spread the word and help get more teams to Rifle next year.
"We're really hoping for more," said Reece-Long, who added that co-ed softball teams could be part of the tournament next year, if there's enough interest.
"Hopefully there's enough people who can help us spread the word," she added.