One hundred and nine teams from 11 states and the Province of Ontario will compete in the largest-ever Aunt Rosie's Fast-pitch Softball Tournament, beginning Friday at the Pepsi Center in Amherst.
Tournament director Bob Nowak has developed the Aunt Rosie's tournament, sponsored by the Amherst Girls Softball League and Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, into the biggest fast-pitch competition in Western New York and one of the largest in the Northeast. Last year, Nowak was given the Ambassador Award from the Greater Buffalo Convention & Visitors Bureau for the revenue generated by out-of-towners attending the Aunt Rosie's tournament.
"We are not only one of the largest tournaments in the Northeastern U.S., people tell us we are one of the best," Nowak said.
"The Aunt Rosie's tournament has become one of the best tournaments in the East," said John Rumschik, coach of the 18-under Buffalo Bisons softball team. "Bob Nowak does an outstanding job in running and promoting the tournament. This is the one local tournament that we choose to play in because the caliber of competition is very high."
The addition of the 23-under age division this year has allowed the 13th Aunt Rosie's tournament to expand.
"Last year was the very first year that the Amateur Softball Association had a 23-and-under age division," said Peter Ruppar, assistant tournament director.
Nowak decided to add that division if it generated enough interest. It did, drawing 11 teams. Interest, in fact, increased for all age divisions. This year, 75 percent of the teams are from outside of Buffalo. They come from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan and Ontario.
Twenty-eight teams in the 16-under division will compete June 22-24. On July 6-8, 21 teams will play in the 14-under division. The following weekend, July 13-15, both the 12- and 10-under groups play. On July 21-22, the first 23-under championship will be up for grabs. The 18-under division has 32 teams playing July 26-29.
For more information on the tournament, contact Peter Ruppar at 855-1111 on weekdays or 626-0417 on weekends and evenings, or look at the website at www.amherstgirlssoftball.com.