Teams from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will be participating, with the farthest traveling from Cincinnati.
The tournament will draw about 2,000 fans and competitors, according to tournament director and organizer Jim Markland.
There will be “about 800 to 1,000 people out there Friday night alone,” Markland said. “Parking is at a premium.”
Markland, who has been involved with the tournament since its inception and is also the president of Fort Wayne Turners, said he begins planning the tournament six months in advance, with the help of Kirk Schmidt, Joe Wagner and numerous volunteers.
“I never advertise for the tournament, but it always fills up,” said Markland. “Last year I had a team that did not make it in, so they came out and registered and paid a year in advance.”
The tournament has been played on the two softball diamonds at Turners for 10 years, after moving from larger sites at Lawton Park, Northside Park and the old City Utilities Park. Markland was forced to cut the number of teams from 40 in past years to around 30 in order to accommodate the smaller size of Turners. Despite fewer teams being able to register, the location change has actually helped make the tournament more of a draw.
“It’s the atmosphere,” said Markland. “I’ve played in some more prestigious tournaments, but none that were any more fun. To pack 31 teams in 60 games on two diamonds over three days is incredible.”
A local team, Wildman/Freedom Windows, has won the tournament the past five years. The winning team receives a $500 cash prize.
TournamentWhat: William Whetstone Memorial softball tournament
Where: Fort Wayne Turners, 3636 Parnell Ave.
When: Games scheduled 7 p.m.-midnight today, 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
For more: To register for next year’s tournament, contact Jim Markland at firstname.lastname@example.org.