ESPN Events Announces Inaugural Elite Softball Invitational in Clearwater, Florida

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First Annual Event to Take Place in February 2019

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, is adding an annual early-season softball event to its roster for the 2019 NCAA Division I Softball season with the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational. The invitational will take place February 14-17, at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla.

“We are excited to expand ESPN’s commitment to NCAA Division I Softball with the launch of this elite event,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming and ESPN Events. “The St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational brings together some of the nation’s top talent in a highly desirable destination for teams and fans.”

The inaugural early-season tournament will feature Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, Hofstra, JMU, Kentucky, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and two teams from the Big Ten to be announced later this year. Thirteen of the teams competing in the event advanced to post-season play this year with Florida State, Oklahoma and Oregon advancing to the Women’s College World Series.

“This new tournament to start the 2019 Division I Women’s Softball season is the result of a shared vision between ESPN, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, and the City of Clearwater to promote softball and will build on Clearwater’s long history of supporting the sport at all levels,” said George Cretekos, Mayor of the City of Clearwater.

The Eddie C. Moore Complex is Clearwater’s national and state award winning softball facility and has served as host to the Adidas Softball Invitational, USA Women’s National Softball Team and the Michele Smith Softball Camps.

“As the leader in sports and events programming, we are thrilled to collaborate with ESPN and the City of Clearwater to bring this event to our exciting destination and showcase our area, especially our world-class beaches,” said Tim Ramsberger, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s Chief Operating Officer. “We look forward to welcoming all of the college student athletes and fans to our wonderful community and hosting a great experience for everyone. A special thank you to our local resident and two-time Olympian, Michele Smith for playing a vital role in bringing this event together.”

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About St. Pete/Clearwater Sports & Events:

St. Pete/Clearwater Sports & Events is the sports tourism programming arm of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the Convention & Visitors Bureau for Pinellas County. From the Gulf to Tampa Bay, St. Pete/ Clearwater has hosted world-class events with 35 miles of white-sand beaches as a backdrop. Our first-rate venues offer unique experiences to all competitors, from weekend tournaments to major international events, in the most popular destination on the Gulf of Mexico. The qualified Sports & Events team collectively brings more than 60 years of major sports management and marketing experience, including Olympic games, FIFA World Cup and State Games.

About St. Pete/Clearwater:
Situated on a sun-drenched peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Tampa Bay, St. Pete/Clearwater is the most popular destination on the Gulf of Mexico with 35 miles of white-sand beaches, and 361 average number of sunny days per year. Affirming the area’s growing reputation as a top international destination, The New York Times listed St. Pete in its ranking of Top 52 Best Places to Visit, in the company of the world’s most “vibrant cities and spectacular coastlines, unexpected sports and new attractions.” A big reason why is St. Pete’s cultural scene that’s made up of The Dali Museum, Chihuly Collection, as well as two new museums – The James Museum of Western + Wildlife Art and the Imagine Museum – complemented by  more than 80 vibrant and colorful urban murals. Reaffirming St. Pete/Clearwater’s reputation of America’s Best Beaches, the famous powdery sands of Clearwater Beach have been crowned as No. 1 Best Beach in the U.S. for the second time in three years, as well as named the No. 7 in the World as voted by TripAdvisor. St. Pete Beach came in at No. 7 putting two are beaches in the Top 10.