Seniors stand off in Border Battle for softball championship

Courtesy West Michigan Sports Commission

The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) is bringing an international slow-pitch softball tournament to Plainfield Township. 

The USA-Canada Senior Border Battle will pitch its first ball in a weekendlong tournament at 5 p.m Friday, Aug. 5, at the Meijer Sports Complex at 3300 10 Mile Road NE in Rockford. 

Twenty of the best senior slow-pitch softball teams in Canada and the U.S. will face off in a series of games beginning Friday with a Home Run Derby and ending Sunday with a grand finale Border Champion gold-medal game from 5-8 p.m. 

The event is organized by the International Senior Softball Association (ISSA) and Slo-Pitch Ontario Association (SPO). The event first came to West Michigan in 2018 and was intended to alternate each year between the U.S. at the Meijer Sports Complex and Canada at an Ontario venue selected by SPO. It is returning this year for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a special international tournament that we are thrilled to bring back to Michigan after the pandemic-related hiatus,” said Mike Guswiler, president of WMSC. “We are honored to host this international event again and hope for a long and successful partnership going forward, showcasing the premier event at our state-of-the-art Meijer Sports Complex.”

350 players will participate in this year’s tournament, ranging in age from 40-65. U.S. teams in the past have hailed from Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia. The Canadian teams are comprised of players from cities throughout Ontario. 

The Senior Border Battle is expected to generate approximately $485,650 in economic impact plus over 400 hotel nights booked for both the players and an estimated 150 traveling spectators.

The tournament features five age classifications — Men’s 40, 50, 55, 60, and 65 — with three teams per age category selected by ISSA. Each U.S. team will play three preliminary games on Saturday in each age division to determine the No. 1 seeded U.S. team to compete against the Canadian teams on Sunday for the Border Champion. U.S. Border Champions will receive a berth to compete in the 2023 event in Canada.

This event is free and open to the public.

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