Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

This year, the Fourth of July will be kicked off in nontraditional fashion at Pyke Field.

The Del Norte County Recreation Department's Fourth Annual Firecracker Tournament kicks off today at 9 a.m.

According to Recreation Department coordinator John Horner, the event has attracted and become known to softball players from well beyond the North Coast, into Oregon and even other states.

"When I took over the rec program, one of the things I wanted to do was generate buzz (for our events)," Horner said. "People from the valley to the coast know this event. And what better time than the Fourth?"

The Firecracker Tournament exists under a unique format: Each batter receives a single pitch from the pitcher. If the batter hits it, the ball is in play under normal softball rules.

But if the batter swings and misses, that is ruled a strikeout. A

pitch that is not swung at but hits home plate is also a strikeout; a

walk occurs when the pitch misses home plate.

As a result, the longest game any team will play this weekend is

still likely to clock in under an hour.

"It makes it go by faster," Horner said. "There are more games. It's

more fun of a tournament. The one-pitch format makes it fun for fans."

Eight teams entered into the tournament will be divided up into two

pools of four; pool play begins today at 9 a.m. After each team has

completed pool play, Horner will construct a double-elimination bracket

based on team records.

Bracket play is expected to begin at 5 p.m. today. Once darkness

falls upon the fields, the tournament will resume at 9 a.m. Sunday, with

the championship game expected to be played Sunday at 3 p.m.

Barbecued food and concessions will be available to players and


The Firecracker Tournament is the second of four tournaments put on

by the Recreation Department this summer.

The Battle At The Border Tournament, pitting teams from California

against teams from Oregon, takes place July 28andndash;29 at Pyke Field. Cost is

$250 per team; the registration deadline is July 23. Among the event's

attractions is a home run derby.

The Wood Bat Classic tournament takes place August 11andndash;12 at Pyke

Field. Cost is $250; the registration deadline is August 6.

Reach Robert Husseman at