The Mizuno Tournament of Champions, hosted by Cal State Stanislaus through Sunday, offers collegiate softball programs the opportunity to compete with 26 teams from across the state and region in a three-day event.
As Turlock welcomed these athletes to its fields, hotels and restaurants, at least one team reached out to the local community.
The members of the Simon Fraser softball team from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada made a special visit to the kids at the City of Turlock Recreation Department spring break camp on Friday. The athletes shared their experiences of playing softball at the collegiate level — and a little bit of their Canadian culture.
"Whenever we travel we want to do some community initiatives," said Simon Fraser head coach Mike Renney.
The Turlock kids were enthralled with the women of the Simon Fraser Clan from the moment team captain Trisha Bouchard introduced herself and the team in French. Bouchard is from Montreal, Quebec, where the official language is French.
After a question and answer session and a few group games, the Simon Fraser athletes left the kids with a few Canadian keepsakes and new knowledge of America's northern neighbors.
The women of the Clan were in high spirits Friday afternoon as they started the tournament with a pair of victories, defeating Great Northwest Athletic Conference rival Western Oregon 10-5 and the Hawaii Pacific Seawarriors, 1-0.
"We won our first two; it was a good start for us. The tournament is a mid-point season key development for us," said Renney.
Simon Fraser has a Turlock connection. The school's senior director of athletics and recreation, Milton Richards, is the former athletic director for Cal State Stanislaus. Richards took the helm of Simon Fraser athletics as the school became the first international member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II.
Richards' wife, Turlock City Council member Amy Bublak, is a full-time resident of Turlock and graduate of Cal State Stanislaus.
Simon Fraser is set to play host Cal State Stanislaus at 3:45 p.m. today at the Pedretti Sports Complex.