Vienna preps for GMAC tourney

VIENNA -The breakup of the West Virginia Conference naturally meant the end of its annual softball championship tournament, conducted at Jackson Park in Vienna.

When news of the WVIAC’s demise first leaked out, Vienna officials figured that instead of having both the college and high school championships at their three-field complex on Rosemar Road, they would be down to just one tournament.

Then, Ohio Valley University announced that it was leaving the WVIAC for the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Immediately, OVU officials began lobbying to have the league’s softball tournament in Vienna. When the WVIAC conducted its final tournament at Jackson Park last May, GMAC representatives attended the event and came away quite impressed with what they saw.

So impressed, in fact, that they voted to conduct this year’s tournament in Vienna.

The eight-team event -which includes four teams from the Mountain State -will run from Thursday through Saturday. It’s a double-elimination affair and will be conducted on two of the three fields -Nos. 1 and 3. Both have received new fencing and are equipped with press box facilities.

Plus, Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Norm Harris and his employees have established a reputation of keeping the fields in first class condition no matter what weather they encounter. That skill may come in handy this week, with rain the most prominent word in the weather forecast.

The West Virginia teams in the event may have a rough time staying around long. In the eight-team field, Alderson-Broaddus is the highest seeded Mountain State representative at No. 4. Davis & Elkins is No. 5, Salem International No. 6 and Ohio Valley University No. 7.

Trevecca Nazarene of Tennessee is the top seed, followed by Kentucky Wesleyan and Cedarville, which is located in Ohio, as is the No. 8 seed, Ursuline.

Action gets under way at 10 a.m. Thursday with Ursuline facing Trevecca Nazarene and West Virginia rivals D&E and A-B battling one another. At noon, OVU will make its debut against Kentucky Wesleyan while Salem will take on Cedarville at the same time.

Weather permitting, all eight teams will play twice on Thursday. When the day ends, the field will be reduced to six, with two teams undefeated and four teams one loss away from elimination.

Friday’s action will begin at 11 a.m. and will conclude when the lone 5 p.m. game ends. By that time, the tournament will be down to the two teams that will compete for the championship, which begins at noon on Saturday.

Tickets to the event are $8 for general admission and $5 for senior citizens and students.