Traveling all over South Carolina with my daughters' fastpitch softball teams, I have had the privilege of visiting sports complexes in many cities across the state. During the spring and summer, my family is in a different city at a different softball complex nearly every weekend. Unfortunately, not one of those weekends is spent at a complex here in Columbia.
Hartsville, SC, is a small town in Darlington County that is dotted with tobacco and cotton fields. We pass many of these fields on our way to Byerly Park where there is a fastpitch softball tournament nearly every weekend. This is a beautiful facility that includes four softball fields, a concession area, and restrooms. The local Marriott Fairfield Inn is where I've laid my head many times after a day of watching my girls play.
Sumter now has three softball facilities, having just built the latest one, Patriot Park, to host the Dixie Girls World Series this past summer. Dillon Park and Palmetto Park are both wonderful complexes and Dillon Park just received a new concession building.
Florence boasts the beautiful Freedom Florence softball complex while Lexington has three such facilities. Pine Grove Park, Oak Grove Park and the facilities on Ball Park Road make Lexington quite the desirable location for a World Series type of tournament (The ISA World Series was held there in 2006).
As I write this, I am in the midst of packing for a weekend tournament in Summerville, SC, where many softball families, mine included, will spend money on hotels, food, gas, etc. Imagine the revenue that this one tournament will bring to the city of Summerville this weekend! It is estimated that the Dixie Softball World Series brought between $300,000 and $500,000 to Sumter in one weekend this summer.
I could go on and on boring you with lists of fantastic softball fields in South Carolina. But the point I am attempting to make is that it seems like Columbia has turned her back on the sport and on the girls who love it. We parents have fought for proper facilities in our county to no avail. A little birdie has told me that a new sports complex is in the works for Blythewood, but that there won't be
enough softball fields there to host a tournament. It looks like we'll have to continue visiting other cities on the weekends, taking our money with us. While Columbia misses out on a great opportunity to enrich the lives of young girls, the city is giving up quite a bit of revenue that these other areas are happy to have, instead.