Over the next three weeks, nearly 375 girls’ softball teams will make their way to the Lower Eastern Shore for the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Eastern National Championships.
This year’s Eastern National marks the 15th year of the event on the Eastern Shore.
The event was first held in Wicomico County in 2007, hosting 58 teams. Registration now averages between 350-400 teams annually.
The tournament is a major economic driver for the area. In a typical year, the estimated economic impact is between $18-$20 million.
Over the course of 15 years, the area has hosted nearly 3,900 teams, generating a total economic impact of over $186 million.
“We are thrilled to be celebrating 15 years hosting the Eastern National,” said Kristen Goller, tourism manager for Wicomico County. “We enjoy hosting the event each year and look forward to the next 15 years.”
The growth of the tournament is due in part to the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA), a formal sports marketing partnership between Wicomico and Worcester Counties and the Town of Ocean City. MAASA was formed in 2014 to accommodate the growth of the Eastern National, which had expanded beyond Wicomico County’s borders.
“USSSA East and the MAASA partners worked for years to grow the Eastern National,” Goller said. “Because of the dedication from all sides, this event is now one of the largest fast-pitch tournaments in one location in the nation.”
The Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbury provides the main fields of play for the tournament. Other fields tentatively scheduled for use in Wicomico County include East Wicomico Little League, Eastside Youth Sports Complex, Mason-Dixon Sports Complex and WinterPlace Park. In Worcester County, games are scheduled at Showell Park and John Walter Smith Park. In the Town of Ocean City, games will be played at Northside Park.
The Eastern National is divided into three tournament weeks:
Week 1: July 13-18 - 10U Open, 12U Open
Week 2: July 20-25 - 14U Open, 14U B
Week 3: July 26-31 - 16U Open, 18U Open, 18U B
*”U” abbreviation for “under.”
Tournament games are open to the public with no admission fee charged. For more information on the Eastern National, please visit www.WicoSports.org. In accordance with USSSA national guidelines, schedules will be released at the beginning of each tournament week, and will be posted to the USSSA website.