Tournament officials announced Wednesday the 10-team field of high-caliber D-I fastpitch programs that will make up the 2017 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, set for two sessions (Feb. 9-11 and Feb. 16-18).
This preseason event brings together several of the most accomplished teams in the sport, with games to be played at the newly refurbished Nancy Almaraz Stadium. Session 1 features Oklahoma, Washington and Auburn (top 10 in the most recent NCAA RPI totals) along with Nebraska and BYU; Session 2 will showcase Florida Gulf Coast, Fresno State, Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Cal State Fullerton (the Titans are still waiting to finalize their appearance).
“Nebraska is excited to be going to Puerto Vallarta for many reasons,” said Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle. “It’s the beauty of Puerto Vallarta, it’s going to give us outstanding competition, and we know that Triple Crown Sports only runs first-class events. We are thrilled they included us in this prestigious tournament.”
Session #1 – Feb. 9-11
Nebraska (Big Ten)
Oklahoma (Big 12)
Session #2 – Feb. 16-18
Cal State Fullerton (Big West)
Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun)
Fresno State (MWC)
Mississippi State (SEC)
Texas Tech (Big 12)
“It’s a thrill for our program to get this unique opportunity and to experience a different culture through softball,” said Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso. “It’s our first time ever leaving the country, and I’m so confident in the first-class approach of Triple Crown Sports that I never hesitated in committing to the trip. The field of teams is phenomenal, and we are so excited about kicking off our 2017 season in Puerto Vallarta.”
Each session will start with games on Thursday, with the event concluding on Saturday afternoon. Teams will play each other once; no charge to watch games for fans who have booked a travel package through TCS.
While the competitive flavor of the event speaks for itself, tournament officials have made sure to secure plentiful lodging for fans to make the trip down to support their favorite team. Travel packages are available through numerous villas in the city as well as at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort, located right on the beach and within walking distance of the stadium.
“The opening session is one of the finest five-team fields to ever face each other in a preseason event. These programs have a history of success, and fans will be thrilled to see this collection of superior athletes in such an intimate setting,” said David King, event director and CEO of Triple Crown Sports. “Session 2 is not a pushover, either. Several of those teams own impressive RPI’s and will give each other a stern test at the start of the year, which is what fans and coaches love to see.”
Teams and their fans will experience a fully renovated ballpark with new lights; work on the stadium (which sits barely ¼ a mile from the beach) was accomplished through a partnership with the city of Puerto Vallarta and Triple Crown Sports.
The inaugural Puerto Vallarta College Challenge was held in 2015, featuring the teams from BYU, Nevada, Northern Colorado and Southern Illinois. Those were the first fastpitch games in NCAA history played outside the United States.