Peppers Classic tournament hosts 96 teams over a three day championship
The Mankato Area Girls Fastpitch Association celebrates its 40-year anniversary.
NORTH MANKATO & ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) - The Mankato Area Girls Fastpitch Association celebrates its 40-year anniversary a little stronger with its Peppers Classic tournament: an annual, multi-community championship that lasted over the past three days.
“My family is normally really into the games, so they’re like screaming with us, hyped with us- really in the game with us,” 14u Mankato Peppers Orange player Taylor Fitzoff said.
96 teams, in four age divisions, competed across different fields in North Mankato, Mankato, and St. Peter from Friday to Sunday.
“We get close to 100 team to come from Wisconsin, Canada, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, so lots of teams and lots of chances to play,” 14u Mankato Peppers Orange coach Megan Fitzoff said.
“We’ve played against most and some of these teams, like a lot of them are from Minnesota. But, there’s some from Canada we’ve never played against because they don’t normally let Canada in the Classic- but they did this year,” 14u Mankato Peppers Orange player Aunika Parten said.
According to the tournament committee chair, John Considine, with 4,000 people attending, and households spending roughly $750 each on hotel, gas, food, and other shopping, the Peppers Classic generates $1 million for the regional economy. The tournament proved that these softball fans are just as eager to win as the teams.
“Most of our Peppers parents are pretty involved in the game and very helpful, and telling us where the ball was hit last time so we know to be ready. And keeping track on GameChanger and other apps like that, so our family can watch it, whos not here,” Taylor Fitzoff said.
This year, the Classic Sportsmanship Award was introduced for one team from each age division, and the 12u Mankato Peppers Orange team took a trophy. Also, all teams had a chance for recruitment and scouting from regional colleges.
“They’re at Caswell watching 16u and 18u, but sometimes they come and watch 14u,” Parten said.
“We have FloSoftball at our tournaments. Its giving girls opportunities to be video-taped, broadcasted, and put out there- so, it’s a good opportunity for girls looking to be recruited,” Megan Fitzoff said.
With regional and out-of-state teams pouring into home-fields, the Mankato Peppers face great pitching, defense, and players that can really hit the ball.
“The Peppers Classic offers really good competition. It’s an A tournament, but there’s teams from all over the place that are here competing. And I think there are some teams that are even combining some of their top teams to create an elite team,” Megan Fitzoff said.
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