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NFCA Announces Clearwater As New Home Of Division I Leadoff Classic

Clearwater, Fla.Photo Courtesy of Visit St. Petersburg ClearwaterSTARKVILLE, Miss. – The NFCA and the City of Clearwater, Fla., have entered into a three-year agreement to sponsor the NFCA Leadoff Classic, a 24-team Division I tournament. The event, which began in 1996 in Columbus, Ga., is taking a hiatus in 2011 before it reignites in Clearwater the last weekend of February (24-26), 2012.

“Clearwater's first rate athletic facilities earned us Sports Illustrated's SportsTown USA designation and I think it's easy to understand why,” said Clearwater Mayor Frank V. Hibbard. “We are proud to welcome athletes and fans to enjoy all that Clearwater has to offer.”

The tournament, which features head-to-head competition over three days, routinely has featured some of the top teams in the nation, with some even going on to win NCAA national championships three months later.

“To add a tournament of this caliber to our roster of events is a prime example of how the St. Pete/Clearwater area is a leader in sports tourism,” said Kevin Smith, Director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission. “This area has always been a hotbed for competitive softball and we’re thrilled to begin a new partnership with National Fastpitch Coaches Association and the NFCA Leadoff Classic.”

Lacy Lee Baker, NFCA executive director who originated the Leadoff concept, also expressed her delight in the tournament’s new home. “The Clearwater facilities are outstanding, and the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department has done a stellar job in hosting other high-profile events. The people there understand what it takes to produce a first-class event, and we’re looking forward to a strong alliance for many years to come.”