Citizens Park has hosted several USSSA events over the years. This weekend, it will open its gates for the organization once again, as one of its tournaments will return to Aiken with a new name.
The USSSA Back to School Shoot Out will be contested at Citizens Park on Saturday. The event had previously been known as the Brain Tumor Foundation Fastpitch, and although there’s a change in the title, the tournament is set to be contested again.
“It has been here the last couple of years; it’s been a good tournament,” said Seth Holley, the Athletic Program Coordinator II for the City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
This year’s tournament will include a field of 17 teams from South Carolina. Some of the squads will be traveling from Lexington, Sumter and Chapin, while local squads from Aiken and North Augusta will also be in action. They’re competing in four age levels – 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U – and are each guaranteed to play three games. That includes one contest in pool play, which will lead into a blind draw double-elimination bracket.
The action will start at 9 a.m., and the championship game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., wrapping up a day full of fastpitch softball.
“Everybody’s in it to win it,” said Carrie Lyons, the Fast Pitch State Director for USSSA, who added it’s always good to bring events to Citizens Park and Aiken. “We have a very good relationship. They have good people, and it’s great to work with the City of Aiken.”
Lyons said she’s optimistic she’ll be able to bring another tournament to Citizens Park in the near future. She’s ironing out the details on the NPF Back to School Tour, an even bigger tournament to be held in October. She said along with the teams, the event will feature former Olympians as well as Division I and professional softball players.
Lyons played softball for South Carolina and was part of the Gamecock team that participated in the Women’s College World Series in 1997. Lyons said she’s grateful for the opportunities afforded her to play softball and is trying to pay that forward by helping to organize tournaments like Saturday’s.
“I want to give back and help kids get a leg up in softball,” she said. “On Saturday, the kids will have a great time, experience beautiful facilities at Aiken and enjoy the game of softball.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years after graduating from Syracuse University.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: USSSA Back to School Shoot Out
WHERE: Citizens Park
WHEN: Saturday; games from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WHO: Teams in 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U divisions