OCEAN CITY- Nearly 5,000 softball players from all over the country and beyond descended on the Lower Shore this week for the first events in the U.S. Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Eastern World Series.
This year’s event began on Wednesday and will continue nearly through the end of the month with competition each week in different age brackets. The USSSA Eastern World Series draws more than 350 teams from 14 states and Canada to the Worcester-Wicomico region over the three weeks.
The event draws an estimated economic impact of nearly $18 million to the region and a hotel room-night demand exceeding 10,000. Wicomico County has hosted USSSA events for 10 years, but the growth in the size and scope of the Eastern World Series has sparked an expansion into other areas on the Lower Shore.
The 2016 event will once again be billed under the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA), partnership formed in 2014 between Wicomico and Worcester Counties and the town of Ocean City. The formal sports marketing partnership is the first of its kind in the nation and leverages the combined assets of each jurisdiction in order to attract, retain and build sports marketing events. For example, while Wicomico and Worcester have the athletic facilities to handle the events, the town of Ocean City has the hotel rooms and other amenities to accommodate the players, coaches, families, friends and fans.
This week, the USSSA Eastern World Series opened with competition in the under-10 open and under-12 open divisions. Next weekend will feature the under-14 A and B divisions, while the series will wrap up during the week of July 25-30 with the under-16 open division, the under-18 open division and the under-18 B division.
The Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbury provides the main fields of play for the series. Other fields tentatively scheduled for use in Wicomico County include the East Wicomico Little League, Eastside Youth Sports Complex, Fruitland Recreational Area, WinterPlace Park and Mason-Dixon Sports Complex. In Worcester County, games are scheduled for John Walter Smith Park, North Worcester Athletic Complex, Showell Recreation Complex, Stephen Decatur High School and Stephen Decatur Middle School. In Ocean City, games will be played at Northside Park. Tournament games are open to the public with no admission fee charged. For additional information on the USSSA World Series, please visit www.SalisburyChampionships.org.