This weekend, July 10-12, the ball fields of Blount County will host the 47th Smoky Mountain Classic Tournament. 34 major teams from 20 states will come here to compete in the premiere slow-pitch softball tournament.


Our local teams will kickstart the tournament on Friday morning. At 10:00, Solway Hardware out of Knoxville will play SFI/SAL/Easton from Sutherland, Virginia. Then at 11:00, Knoxville’s Tapout/Ecological Pest Management will play Dead End BBQ/GoTeez. Whichever local team plays best in the morning will go on to play the #1 ranked team in the country, Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth, at 3:30.


The Classic is a double elimination tournament, and the bracket may be found on the USSSA website.


Tickets are sold by the day–$6 for Friday and Saturday, $5 for Sunday–at Sandy Springs ball field. Attendants check in there, receive their armbands, and find out where their favorite teams will be playing. Games will take place at Everett Park, Denso, and Springbrook Park, as well as Sandy Springs.


Parks & Rec expects this event will bring out a couple thousand people this weekend, maybe more. Devoted fans will find several options for snacks and refreshments, including Smoky Mountain Kettle Korn and funnel cakes and Mountain Snow shaved ice. The concessions will be selling hamburgers, hot dogs, and barbecue, and Park & Rec will serve pizza and IttiBitz ice cream.


This year marks the 20th Smoky Mountain Classic for Chris Clark, Superintendent of Athletics. He loves this event for multiple reasons, as do the players who come back year after year: “It’s a great chance to have fun and meet new people.” Chris wants Blount County residents to know what a benefit the Smoky Mountain Classic is to the local economy. Chris has been communicating with the area hotels, and they are reaching capacity in a hurry. The same will certainly be true for local restaurants and shops. Each year this weekend means hundreds of thousands of dollars for Maryville, Alcoa, and Blount County.


The Executive Director of Parks & Rec, Joe Huff, has been overseeing the Classic for 33 years, and he has many positive things to say about it also. “Slow-pitch softball is a recreational sport, one both men and women can play. With professional sports, the fun of the game is often lost, but that’s not the case with slow-pitch softball. It’s a lot of fun to play.” The enjoyment of the sport translates to the fans, and the event planners as well. “A lot of tournaments have come and gone” in this sport, but the Smoky Mountain Classic has been attracting teams and fans for 47 years, and there’s no sign of that streak ending. Everyone knows this tournament is the best, and “we’ve been able to keep putting it on because of the support we get locally. It’s really great for Blount County to have something that is #1 in the country.”


So bring yourself out to the ball games and root, root, root! It would be a shame to miss out on this Blount County gem.


By Mallory Leonard