Formed over two decades ago, the Great Western Shootout has become one of the premier non-conference community college softball tournaments in the nation. The concept for the tournament was formed in the early 1980’s at a time when competition between California and Arizona community college softball programs was extremely one-sided in favor of the teams in the Golden State. Looking for a way to give the Arizona schools a more competitive taste of top-level softball while staying home (instead of being dominated at California tournaments), former AWC Head Softball Coach Charlie Dine and then-Central Arizona Head Softball Coach Mike Candrea (who would go on to lead the University of Arizona to 7 NCAA Championships) formed the Great Western Shootout.
It was first held at Yuma’s Joe Henry Park and Sanguinetti Field, and pitted nearly 20 teams from the two states against each other. However, when community college budgets in California started having to cut costs, many California schools begrudgingly began withdrawing from the tournament, which allowed organizers to expand the scope of the tournament by inviting schools from such states as Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon and Texas.
Within the last 10-15 years, venues such as the Cibola High School and Yuma Catholic High School fields became the host fields, but because of the increasing size of the tournament field, Joe Henry Park has also hosted some games to handle the influx of teams. Plus, the level of competition has reached an all-time high, with nationally ranked teams from Kansas and Florida joining the mix.
The 2013 Great Western Shootout will host nine teams from six different states-many of whom were nationally ranked at the end of last season. That list includes your own Lady Matadors, who will play 8 games themselves as part of the three-day event. The Thursday and Friday games of the tournament will be held both at Joe Henry Park's Softball Fields (North 23rd Avenue & West Colorado Street
(just off of 1st Street near Avenue B in Yuma)), and at the AWC Softball Field (2020 South Avenue 8E on the Yuma main campus
). All of Saturday's games will be held at Joe Henry Park.