PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The softball diamonds in Panama City Beach are, unfortunately, soggy this week, and there doesn't seem to be a break in sight as wet weather continues to roll through the entire region during the opening week US Fastpitch Association (USFA) World Series.
300 teams from 18 states are in town for the event, using the new (and still under construction) PCB Sports Complex and Frank Brown Park with games scheduled from early morning to late night. All the rain and lightning delays have thrown in a monkey wrench of sorts, although the fields at the new park help in a big way.
"If you know this part of the world, you know during the summer you're gonna catch some rain," USFA national director Robert Guerrero admits. "I think there's some fundamentals around on how to navigate the chaos. One is communication. We really communicate and have tools to communicate with our teams. The fact that this facility has turf is also an added benefit. We can take a larger amount of rain. Although we sometimes have to get in a lightning delay...we don't have to wait to refinish the fields to get them ready."
This week and next week's World Series games are the first ones played at the facility.
Plenty remains to be done. Lights poles are installed, but inoperable; walkaways and grass are incomplete; all in all, it's a long way from completion, but the response has still been strong from parents, coaches, and the organization.
"Even though we're not using the entire facility just yet because it's not quite ready to go, the response has been very positive," Guerrero said. "The tournament's up and we are expecting a huge tournament next year because that's really the first year of us doing the blowout of the new facility."
Guerrero added that they'll continue to work to complete all games, scheduling first pitches as late as 10 p.m. at Frank Brown Park if necessary.
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