Softball is the name of the game, but at this level of competition teams are prepared to play hardball.
Starting tonight at Central Park, 13 teams from across the state will compete in the 2011 Georgia Recreation and Park Association Men’s Church Equalizer Softball Tournament.
Forsyth County is host of the annual two-day challenge, and two local teams will be vying for the top spot in the double-elimination style bracket.
Freedom Tabernacle and Coal Mountain Baptist Church will represent Forsyth in the tournament, due to qualifying wins.
Wayne Maddox, manager of Forsyth County’s athletic division, said county teams in this league make it to the state level "almost regularly."
At least one men’s church league team has gone on to compete in the tournament in three of the last four years, Maddox said.
During this year’s tournament, 24 games will be played, with a 25th if necessary to determine the winner.
The championship game is set for 5:15 p.m. Saturday, with an "if necessary game" at 6:35 p.m.
Maddox said the public is welcome to attend the tournament, which should be an entertaining one.
"I would expect the level of competition to be pretty good," he said.
The two Forsyth teams have some members on their rosters that have played locally for many years in many leagues, Maddox said.
Players on teams in the men’s church league are also more likely to come from the same families than in the regular men’s or co-ed leagues, said Doug Cox, organizer of the Coal Mountain Baptist Church team.
Cox said though he’s become too old to play, his son and nephews will carry on as their team plays at the state level for the first time.
"You never know what kind of competition you’re going to see in this tournament," he said. "Forsyth County should do good, though."
Freedom Tabernacle and Coal Mountain Baptist meet during the regular season, Cox said, so they’re "pretty familiar" with each other.
Coal Mountain will play its first game at 7 tonight, and Freedom at 8:20 p.m.
The way the bracket sets up, they won’t meet unless it’s for a spot in the championship game.
Tournament teams from outside the county give locals something to cheer about as well, since they’ll be contributing to the economy, said Anna Brostrom, tourism director for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
Brostrom used the example of a team from Valdosta that has reserved several local hotel rooms.
"That means they’re going to stay there, spend their money with lodging, eat in the restaurants, buy their gas here," she said. "So it’s going to be an economic impact that way."
When it comes to local tourism, sports are a big draw in Forsyth, Brostrom said.
This August, the county will play host to the national Amateur Softball Association Men’s Church Slow Pitch National Softball Tournament.
That competition also will be at Central Park, home of the county’s only adult softball complex.