The Okanagan’s Valley of Champions returns. Age groups range from nine to 17 with 69 teams converging over Kelowna this weekend. (valleyofchampions.com)

Valley of Champions tournament returns to Okanagan

The Kelowna tournament will host almost 70 teams from B.C. and Alberta

The Okanagan will welcome back aspiring baseball champions this weekend.

The Valley of Champions baseball tournament returns to Kelowna for its 17th annual visit. Minor baseball teams from across B.C. and Alberta with age groups ranging from nine to 17 look to battle the best-of-the-best in their divisions.

“The tournament is the largest baseball tournament in Western Canada,” tournament president Todd Russell said.

“It’s a major part of the Western Canada baseball scene, and it’s good competition all weekend.”

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Sixty-nine teams will converge on Kelowna baseball diamonds for the weekend-long tournament. It’s one of the most highly anticipated tournaments as teams use it to get prepared for minor baseball provincials in August. Fans and families from Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Prince George and the Okanagan will watch their respective teams—rain or shine—over the weekend.

Since the tournament started in 2002 with only three local baseball associations, the tournament has gone on to include teams from the U.S. and Saskatchewan; though none are making the trip this year simply because there wasn’t enough spots.

“I send out registration for the tournament in early January, and we’re filled and putting teams on the waitlist by February,” Russell said.

“Teams want to come here, and we get good crowds. Unfortunately, I get a lot of calls from disappointed teams who missed the registration.”

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The tournament will take over Mission Sports Complex, Lombardy Park and Edith Gay Park.

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