With temperatures reaching upper 80s, music blaring from Relay for Life, crowds of people coming and going and fans sitting on the ridge behind the Bellevue College outfield fence, the 2012 NW Baden Invitational baseball tournament began. The tournament started Thursday and went all weekend until Sunday.
For those who don’t know what the NW Baden Invitational tournament is, it’s a baseball tournament that showcases the top 30 18U Elite summer ball teams from Washington, Oregon and California. The invitational is a wooden bat tournament, which for some is hard to get use to.
“Wooden bats are just different, it’s hard get use to them. I don’t like them that much, they don’t go as far, but also they just changed the rules again.
“It’s even harder to hit them far with the new BB cores,” O’Brien’s player, Ryan Atkinson, said.
Some of the players that play on these select teams are college ball players, high school players, but most of the players are in the transitional stage, between high school and collegiate ball.
With three states feeding into a very elite tournament, the players are facing teams that they have never seen before but also may have a higher level of play than them.
This tournament is important for the players because there are a lot of eyes on them. Players get to showcase their skills to future coaches, teammates and scouts from Division 1 schools, like Portland University and San Diego University.
With scouts walking around the field and the fence line watching certain players intensely, the audience could tell the stakes were a little higher to win and do well.
“The tournament is important to all the players here. It gives us the opportunity to show the coaches how we play under pressure.
“Bellevue College is a great place to play baseball; it has a really nice field and overall is a good venue. I am looking forward to playing here a lot next year,” Trevor Taylor said.
Todd Atkinson, father of Ryan Atkinson and longtime youth baseball coach and former Bellevue College player, said “Bellevue College has a lot to offer [referring to how the tournament was ran and the field] I used to play here, and yeah, the stands are a little old but the diamond is great. They take nice care of it.”
With the field being prepped before every game and new lines being placed, the conditions were perfect. Parents and players both agreed that Bellevue College had a very nice field and seemed to be very happy about the way the tournament was run.
“Usually when you go to big tournaments like this you run into parking problems or it gets over crowded, but not here. The parking was easy, it was simple to find and it was just overall a good, pleasant time. I’m very impressed the way the tournament was ran,” a parent said.
Bellevue College has been and continues to be a popular venue for local athletics.