Safe at home: Sun City Festival softball flourishes

Posted 3/14/22

A player launches a line drive into short left field on a recent Tuesday at the Wagner Sports Complex. He legs it out, running as fast as he can to first base.

Suddenly, a rover fielder reaches up …

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Safe at home: Sun City Festival softball flourishes

Posted

A player launches a line drive into short left field on a recent Tuesday at the Wagner Sports Complex. He legs it out, running as fast as he can to first base.

Suddenly, a rover fielder reaches up and snags the ball for an out.

The players with the Sun City Festival Softball Club don’t necessarily move quite as swiftly as they did in their younger years, but there is still much fun to be had on the diamond. With action on the field sometimes six days a week, the lone diamond in Sun City Festival is busy.

An opportunity is coming up for those players to showcase their skills.

The Del Webb development at Festival has had a softball field since 2008. With the White Tank Mountains as a backdrop, 13 miles west of Surprise, the field has eventually allowed full association’s schedule of games to be played nearly year-round.

Festival, a 55-and-older-targeted retirement community, has about 3,900 finished homes, construction of new units is everywhere, and the community is slated for 6,600 when fully built out. The field is nestled near what is currently the northeastern corner of the development, and is the only Del Webb ballpark in the Northwest Valley..

It boasts a 300-foot outfield fence and has dugouts, an electronic scoreboard, some permanent spectator seating and plenty of grass and shade trees outside the baseline fences.

There are more than 170 rabid softball players in the association, according to its president, Dave Markowitz.

“We’ve got players who went decades without playing, or who just really love the game, some who played professionally, and everyone in between,” Markowitz said. “All ability and experience levels.”

There is a women’s team, the Firebirds, and some co-ed play, at times. Games are held five days a week at the Wagner Sports Complex, at all hours of the day in the cooler months (there are no lights for night games) and as early as 7:30 a.m. in the summer.

 The club welcomes all players, regardless of ability or talent level. All new players go through an evaluation process so they are paired with like players, and so their skill sets compliment each other.

Players ultimately fall into one of three categories, according to Markowitz.

For the third time in four years, the association plans to host an annual SCF States Tournament. With a year off to take into account COVID-19 precautions, the club is back with a sort of “Where are you from?” format, sorting players onto teams tied to parts of the U.S. or Canada where they lived most or a large part of their lives.

Entries were due at the start of March and the tourney total roster is capped at 84 players.

“Once teams are divided by region, they are then balanced by skill level, so every team has a chance to win great prizes and bragging rights for the next season,” Markowitz said.

A new team, called the Freedom Fighters, is for military veterans. The Northern U.S. team is the two-time defending champion.

The regional teams will compete in a tournament the week of March 28. After two days of round-robin play to determine seeding, a double-elimination part of the tourney will take place Wednesday and Thursday, March 30 and 31.

Markowitz said club players always try their best, but the tournament tends to raise the energy level a bit.

“There will be four days of intense softball games,” Markowitz said.

There will be a barbecue going each day, along with music, announcers, and “lots of fun,” Markowitz said. “If you are looking for a great way to spend some time and watch some great softball, make your way out to Sun City Festival the last week of March.”

There also plans in motion for a large softball-related event on Memorial Day that will honor deceased veterans.

More information can be found on scfsoftballclub.com. The “contact us” page includes a form to contact club leadership.

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