It was in the summer of 69 that the world's largest softball tournament, which also goes in the same name started. Softball tournament became possible mainly because of the efforts of Frank Taylor, who was the Central Virginia commissioner of the Amateur Softball Association. When Frank became the commissioner, he was still busy playing the game in many slow pitch events.
In the next year, Frank conducted the first Memorial Day round-robin tournament that had a total of 32 participating teams from five states. Frank has developed the round-robin format. The new format became extremely popular, and the number of teams rose to 64 the next year. The name of the softball tournament was changed to Richmond Round-Robin, and this led to an increase of teams in the next few years. With the tournament in full bloom, Frank started referring the event as the world's largest softball tournament.
However, by the early Eighties, the softball tournament started declining as entries came down to 192 from a staggering 208. In 1982, the tournament was divided into two divisions by limiting the home runs to three per team in division two. This led to a major upsurge. The total number of teams was 240. Teams had grown from 20 to 424 states by1995 including Iceland and Canada thus earning its name of world's largest softball tournament.
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Another tournament to become big was the Chance Crawford Benefit Softball and Baseball Tournament. It began 27 years ago. All the proceeds from the games are used for providing college scholarships and benefit those with special needs in the Roanoke Valley. The crawford benefit softball and baseball tournament is considered to be the first tournament in history to offer teams the opportunity to earn World, National, and State berths in NSA, ASA and USSSA for one tournament. As a matter of fact, the top 4 teams in each division earn a World and/or National Berth.
For slow pitch softball tournaments, a team has a total of 9 players on the field. For a team to become a co-ed team, it must have at least two women playing at all times. For substitutions to happen, it can take place anytime provided that a player continues to play a complete inning (both offense and defence). However, a substitute runner may only replace the batter after he or she has made the initial run to first base.
Softball will be played at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The competition will start on August 12 and end with the distribution of medals on August 21. At the Fengtai Softball(Olympics 2008) Field the games will be played. Only women will compete in Olympic softball and men will compete in the similar sport of baseball.
The competition as the Beijing Olympics assumes a lot of significance because it will be the last time played at the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has decided to remove the game softball for the 2012 Olympics.
The competition format is that eight teams will compete in the Olympic tournament and consists two rounds. After the preliminary, there will be a round robin format. In it each of the teams plays all the other teams once. After that top four teams advance to a single elimination round consisting of two semifinal games. As far as the qualification is concerned, eight teams will qualify through a series of tournaments. One automatic entry is guaranteed for China as it is the host nation.