What this year's edition of the Best of the Best Softball Classic lacks in quantity, it more than makes up the difference with quality.The 14th annual event hosted by Buffalo will showcase some of the state's top players and teams when it begins its four-day run at Buffalo Park. Class AA competition begins today followed by Class A Thursday and AAA Friday. Admission is $5 for all day. (See Page 2B for schedule.)The 20-team field, which is down from last year's 23 teams, features 14 squads who are in the state coaches association poll."There's a lot of stars,'' said Buffalo veteran coach Darrell Moore, who is also the tournament director. "It looks likes it's going to be a really good tournament."You've got some really good schools coming. I think it's probably not the best overall quality of teams, but I think there's still an abundance of quality teams here.''Top-ranked Cabell Midland, No. 3 Hurricane, No. 4 and defending state champion Lincoln County, No. 5 Logan, No. 6 Parkersburg South and No. 10 East Fairmont are in the AAA field.
The four-team AA field includes No. 3 Chapmanville and No. 8 Scott. No. 1 Buffalo, No. 2 Moorefield, No. 4 St. Marys, No. 5 Man, No. 8 Valley and No. 9 Wahama comprise Class A. "Double-A is kind of light on teams this year,'' Moore said. "A lot of them are out of town and at the beach. Still, Chapmanville and Scott are there and they're capable of anything."Shady Spring is coming on and Sissonville has two really good players [in Dee Dee Loftis and Bekah Baldwin]. I think we have the best field in single-A we've had in a long, long time. I look for it to be a very exciting triple-A field.''Each team will play three games in pool play. The top four teams with the best records in each class advance to Saturday afternoon's single-elimination playoffs.Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org