Junior Olympics State Fastpitch Tournament comes to Minot

The culmination of a summer of hard work is finally here for 65 fastpitch softball teams across the state this weekend. Minot will be hosting the Junior Olympic Fastpitch State Tournament for the first time.

“I’ve been working on this for three years,” tournament director Thor Nelson said. “We’ve been kind of waiting for the turf fields to get built and we were hoping the new building would be up so we were kind of putting them off.”

The tournament goes back and forth between the east and west sides of the state. Primarily in the past, the Junior Olympics State Tournament was held in either Grand Forks or Bismarck. Recently, Fargo got their chance to host in the east and now it is Minot’s turn to host in the west.

Because the sport is growing rapidly in the state, Nelson said there are more teams coming to Minot now than originally anticipated.

There will be 155 softball games played in Minot between Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Games on Friday will start at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on 12 different diamonds between the South Hill Sports Complex and the Sertoma Sports Complex on North Hill.

Ages 14 and above will play their games at the South Hill complex while 12 and under will be on North Hill.

From the state tournament, teams can advance to the national tournament with their entry fee paid for by the state.

“It’s up to (the teams) if they want to attend,” Nelson explained. “Last year, our 14A and 14B teams both won and we did not go to nationals.”

Despite their phenomenal summer the program had last year, the teams didn’t get a chance to go due to family vacations and other planned commitments.

“I told all the girls to plan that we’re going to nationals in 2020,” Nelson said. Even if they don’t win state, teams can pay their own entry fee to play in the national tournament.

For Minot, this will be the fifth fastpitch tournament held in the city. During the spring one of the sub-region tournaments for Class B and both the Class A and Class B fastpitch tournaments were in Minot. Now in the summer, the Storm program hosted 35 teams for their annual Minot Storm Invitation in mid June and now the Junior Olympics are in town.

“That’s a lot of hotel rooms that are filled up for this weekend,” Nelson said. “For us to be able to bring tournaments into town and the number of teams that come to Minot and visit our hotels, restaurants, gas stations and entertainment venues I think it’s great for the community to bring that revenue into the city.”

On South Hill at 18A, Minot Storm will begin their tournament today at 5 p.m. against Grand Forks. Minot Storm’s 16A will also play today at 7 p.m. against West Fargo United. At 14B, Minot Storm will take on Fargo Fire at 5 p.m.

On North Hill, Minot Storm’s 12A team will play Grand Forks at 5 p.m. today. The 12B Minot Storm team will get their start against Hillsboro-Central Valley at 5 p.m. today. The 10B will play Dickinson White at 5 p.m.

The remaining Minot teams at 14A and 10A will start their tournaments Saturday at 9 a.m. 10A Minot Storm will play Dickinson Black on North Hill while 14A Minot Storm will take on the winner of River City Wolf Pack and West Fargo United at South Hill.

Brackets will be updated online throughout the weekend at minotgirlsfastpitch.com/2019-jo-state-tournament.