LONGMONT -- They come from all over to win and to be seen.
Starting Wednesday, 160 of the nation's best club softball teams will face off in Boulder, Louisville, and Longmont at the 2013 Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament.
While at its most fundamental level the tournament is about wins, losses, and championships, most attendees' primary incentive is to show their skills at one of the nation's biggest recruiting showcases.
"Some of the teams even leave a superstar or two at home because many of those girls already know where they're signed," tournament director Dan Burns said. "They do it to make room for other girls who may not have signed yet to get looks."
In its 17th year, Burns said he expects the usual allotment of around 400 college coaches and recruiters to come in search of young talent. The tournament will include two 18U divisions, an 80-team division that will play in Boulder and a 32-team division that will compete in Louisville, as well as a 48-team 16U division that will play in Longmont.
All teams in each division play two pool-play games Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The single-elimination tournament begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Championship games from all brackets will be played at the Gerald Stazio Ball Fields in Boulder at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The 18U tournament features a wrinkle that affects next year's field. The bottom six teams from the Boulder bracket drop into the 2014 Louisville tournament and the top six teams from the Louisville bracket will earn the right to take their places.
The Batbusters from California will defend their 18U title and the 2012 runner-up SoCal Athletics will also be back in 2013. In the 16U tournament, defending champion Team Mizuno from California and the Corona Angels will also return.
"The field should be just as tough this year as it is every year," Burns said.
This year's field also will include plenty of local talent. Burns' team Colorado Stars-Gold will compete in the Boulder 18U division, Colorado Stars-Beavers will compete in Louisville 18U division, and Colorado Stars-Scott will compete in the 16U division in Longmont.
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