The sound a softball makes when popping into the glove of a catcher after being thrown by an elite level college pitcher is distinct. It’s a loud thump and it carries with it a reverberation that something pretty impressive just happened.
Anyway, that sound will again fill the Cathedral City air as the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic — now a two-weekend affair — kicks off Friday with 16 teams battling over three days. Then next weekend, from Thursday, Feb. 23 though Sunday, Feb. 26, 35 more teams will come to town to do it all over again. The second weekend is a particularly high-octane affair with a field that includes defending NCAA champion Oklahoma and six of the eight teams that made last year’s World Series.
The first weekend isn’t short on talent, either.
Starting Friday you can watch the likes of UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Arkansas, Illinois and Kentucky representing the big conferences. The rest of the field includes smaller schools, many from California — Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, UC Davis and San Diego — and some from out of state — Kent State, Liberty, Central Florida and Utah Valley. Those are your 16 teams.
In all, 15 of the top 25 teams in the current USA Today/NFCA Poll will be in the desert, including seven of the top 10 — Florida State, Oklahoma, UCLA, LSU, Washington, Oregon and Arizona.
All the action takes place at Big League Dreams (33700 Date Palm Dr, Cathedral City) and games start as early as 9:30 a.m. and go until 11 p.m. This marks the 14th year of this popular event.
Mary Nutter, by the way, was born in Michigan and graduated from Michigan State. She was a fast-pitch softball lifer. She played at the amateur and pro level and became a coach after her playing days were done. She formed a business conducting softball playing and coaching clinics across the country and is generally considered one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors.
Watch them play
What: The Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, a college softball tournament
When: Feb. 17-19 and Feb. 23-26 with games beginning each day at 9:30 a.m. and going until 11 p.m.
Where: Big League Dreams 33700 Date Palm Dr. Cathedral City
Who: Several of the nation’s top teams, including defending NCAA champions Oklahoma on the second week
Tickets: $25 a day for adults; $10 for seniors 65 and over or students 17 and under; $5 for kids 10 and under.
Website: Purchase tickets, parking details, participating teams and schedule at marynutterclassic.wordpress.com
Mary Nutter Classic Weekend One Schedule
10 a.m.: Kentucky vs. UC Davis
12:30 p.m.: Kentucky vs. Oregon
3 p.m.: Ken State vs. Oregon
5:30 p.m.: UCLA vs. Cal Poly
8 p.m.: UCLA vs. UCF
10:30 a.m.: Liberty vs. Loyola Marymount
1 p.m.: Liberty vs. UC Davis
3:30 p.m.: Illinois vs. Cal
6 p.m.: Illinois vs. St. Mary’s
8:30 p.m.: Kent State vs. San Diego
10 a.m.: St. Mary’s vs. Utah Valley
12:30 p.m.: San Diego vs. Utah Valley
3 p.m.: UCF vs. Cal Poly
5:30 p.m.: LMU vs. Arkansas
8 p.m.: CSUN vs. Arkansas
10 a.m.: Oregon vs. Liberty
12:30 p.m.: Oregon vs. CSUN
3 p.m.: UCLA vs. UC Davis
5:30 p.m.: UCLA vs. Kentucky
8 p.m.: CSUN vs. Kentucky
9:30 a.m.: UC Davis vs. Illinois
Noon: Arkansas vs. Illinois
2:30 p.m.: Cal Poly vs. Utah Valley
5 p.m.: San Diego vs. Arkansas
7:30 p.m.: San Diego vs. Cal Poly
9:30 a.m.: Kent State vs. St. Mary’s
Noon: Kent State vs. Cal
2:30 p.m.: Cal vs. UCF
5 p.m.: UCF vs. Loyola Marymount
7:30 p.m.: Utah Valley vs. LMU
Des Moines Field
Noon: St. Mary’s vs. Liberty
9 a.m.: Oregon vs. Illinois
11:30 a.m.: Cal Poly vs. Liberty
2 p.m.: UCLA vs. Liberty
9 a.m.: Arkansas vs. Kent State
11:30 a.m.: Cal vs. San Diego
10 a.m.: St. Mary’s vs. CSUN
12:30 p.m.: LMU vs. CSUN
Des Moines Field
10 a.m.: Utah Valley vs. UC Davis