WHEELING - There's no denying the I-470 sports complex is home to some of the best ball fields in the Ohio Valley.
It was for that very reason the ASA of Western Pennsylvania scheduled its second Ohio Valley Cardinal Classic to be held there the weekend of June 28-30.
The Road Runner Rendezvous, another travel softball tournament, however, had already called the fields for their own the same weekend.
''We've been there with this tournament on this weekend for about nine years,'' tournament director Rick Sherman said. ''Ours is always the last full weekend of June. What happened was, the way the weekends fell this year, the last full weekend matched up with the week they used last year, from a standpoint of dates. They thought they would have it their same weekend, but, of course, I already had that weekend.''
According to Steve Fee, the Western Area Tournament Umpire-in-Chief, the ASA didn't have a problem with the pecking order.
''We really liked I-470, but Rick's been going there for years,'' Fee said. ''We would have used I-470 because those are tremendous fields, but it was the date more than anything.''
The Cardinal Classic, though, didn't have very far to go to find some quality fields. Just south down the road to Moundsville.
''We're just glad to be in the area,'' Fee said. ''People in West Virginia can't be more helpful. Whether it's at I-470 or Moundsville.''
More than 90 travel softball teams will be in action between the two tournaments with 53 partaking in the Cardinal Classic.
First pitch for games starting on Friday is noon, except for Valley Fork field 2, which won't get off and running until 2:45 that afternoon.
''We had about 48 teams last year,'' Fee said. ''There were eight games guaranteed, so everyone got games in. Then we got some feedback from coaches saying they wanted to play less games if they could play all seven innings. So, now it's six games guaranteed and there won't be a time limit for each game. There'll be seven full innings of softball.
''It gives kids more opportunities to play in front of college coaches and it gives coaches better opportunities to see more action. A good thing about Moundsville is all the fields are right across the street from each other.''
A handful of local teams will participate in the Cardinal Classic with other teams coming from Morgantown, Washington, Pa., Waynesburg, Somerset, New Castle and Pittsburgh.
''A lot of teams come down from Pittsburgh since it's not that far,'' Fee noted. ''It's a nice little get away without having to travel.''
While the Cardinal Classic will be in action in Moundsville, the Road Runner Rendezvous will take over the fields of Wheeling.
Forty-five teams from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be scattered across the ball fields of I-470, 47th Street, Bridge Park and Belle Isle.
''We've had a pretty nice turnout of teams,'' Sherman said. ''We tend to have a wide range (of competition) in each division. Usually we'll have about 25 percent of teams be really good in an age division. Then 50 percent is right in that middle range. A couple of teams in each division are a little bit closer to a rec level team.''
Both tournaments will feature seven age groups: 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 18U.
''Between the two tournaments, the Wheeling hotels and restaurants will be pretty happy this weekend,'' Sherman said.
If that's not enough softball for ones fill, there will also be an 8U tournament in Glen Dale going on the same weekend.