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Families and athletes alike are converging upon Winchester this weekend for a big tournament in a small town — the 32nd Annual ISA Herald Chronicle Softball Tournament.
The event gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. with more than 70 teams vying for bragging rights.
Co-organizer Barry Lamb said that ironically, for a small town, the tournament has blossomed into one of the larger softball challenges in the state.
Lamb has been helping organize the tournament since 1996 when it consisted of just 40 teams.
The lead organizer is Steve Lovvorn, who is also the director of the Independent Softball Association (ISA).
With such a large margin of teams this year, the tournament will be held at the Winchester City and Babe Ruth fields with a few games being held at Decherd’s Babe Ruth field.
Several hundred volunteers were made available to work the weekend-long tournament, that will conclude Sunday evening.
The Fraternal Order of Police helped bring in the volunteers. All money raised is going to non-profit organizations in Winchester. The FOP will distribute a large portion of the proceeds throughout local sports programs in the community.
This year’s tournament will again feature five classifications, women’s, co-ed, then three mens’ groupings — bronze, bronze plus and silver.
After the tournament closes down for the evening, several teams will be back after it at 8 a.m. Saturday and possibly playing late into the wee hours of Sunday morning, according to Lamb.
Still accepting teams, the tournament doesn’t have many repeat winners scheduled. One instance, however, is last year’s second place finisher in the bronze division, Berzett Excavating of Fayetteville, which is competing in the silver bracket this go around.
The silver bracket has the most competitors with 19 teams signed up. But all that could change tonight prior to the tournament.
Weather-wise, storms are expected to pass through but not stay long.
With showers and thunderstorms possible, slippery conditions could end up being an added dimension to the games.