Stars Over Alabama brings elite softball players, economic boost to Shelby County

Published 4:35 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

More than 6,000 softball players descended on Shelby County from June 23-25 to participate in the Stars Over Alabama Summer Camp and Showcase.

Calera’s Eagle Park and Oliver Park, the Chelsea Sports Complex and Pelham City Park all hosted games over the weekend, which drove traffic to many businesses around the county.

“When these visitors are there staying in our hotels and eating in a restaurant, shopping in our stores, buying our gas, there’s no way around it that that just makes a huge impact,” Shelby County Manager of Tourism and Events Kendall Williams said.

The event is a true partnership between Discover Shelby and Danielle Cox Elite Productions. Cox’s team coordinated the event setup, while Williams’ team at the tourism and events department helped maximize the event’s impact on local businesses.

“Danielle Cox and her team does such a good job with really focusing on keeping all the business within the Shelby County limits, and we appreciate that,” Williams said. “We know how hard it is to organize events, especially at this scale. I think that’s the goal is to make sure that the participants have a great time, that the organizers have a great time, and that we make it as easy as possible for them to do business and want to come back again.”

One new and unique way that Williams’ team drove traffic to local businesses was by arranging a Discover Shelby Trail Mix. The team went around to businesses to see if they would offer discounts to the players, and they arranged them in goodie bags for coaches to pass out to their players. Williams said the strategy was a tremendous success.

“When we talked about this event specifically, the businesses signed on, no questions asked, because they remember the business that it had already bought in over the past couple of years, and so there was no hesitation on their part,” Williams said. “I think that speaks volumes to not just the caliber of event and number of people, but also the caliber of participants that are coming and that will actually patron our businesses as well.”

“We’re extremely grateful, but we also never take it for granted,” Williams said. “We always want to approach each year and each event as if it’s their first time to make sure that they still continue to have the best experience again, and we want to welcome them back for years to come.”

The showcase included tournaments in the 18U, 16U, 14U and 12U age divisions. Each tournament consisted of four games of pool play before a 32-team single elimination bracket to decide the winner.

Tennessee Mojo-Hunter won an all-Tennessee 18U final over Jack City 05 Adams-Cathey from Nashville. Alabama teams dominated the 16U bracket, culminating in Alabama Thunderbolts 2024 McCollum from Huntsville defeating Alabama Sports Elite 16U-NWS from Madison.

The 14U tournament was split into two brackets, with Birmingham Vipers 09 taking Bracket A and Diamond Divas 09 from Oxford, Mississippi winning Bracket B.

Finally, Marucci Patriots 2010-Gremillion from Gonzales, Louisiana won the 12U bracket, taking down Gulf Coast Wave from Gulfport, Mississippi.

In addition, an elite camp on June 22 allowed athletes to further display their skills to college coaches in attendance. Multiple Division I coaches were in attendance, including coaches from Jacksonville State, Georgia Southern and Alabama State.

Stars Over Alabama will return in the fall for another showcase from October 14-15, with a camp on October 13.