AUBURNDALE – One of the largest events in fastpitch softball, the USA Softball Junior Olympic (JO) Cup, is coming to Polk County.
The DiamondPlex Softball Complex in Winter Haven and the Auburndale Softball Complex will host a week-long competition July 6-12, 2023, with Florida Southern College’s Chris Bellotto Field showcasing the Championship contest in each age division. More than 70 teams between the three age divisions – 14U, 16U and 18U – will participate.
“The singular purpose behind Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing’s efforts is to put heads in beds and make cash registers ring,” said PCTSM Director Mark Jackson. “This is coming to Polk County thanks to the work of numerous PCTSM staff spanning many, many years, especially the efforts of our sports team of Alex Dry, Kevin Smith, Neal Duncan and many, many more. We expect more than 2,500 room nights – with an economic impact of $3.1 million – when this event is over.”
Created in 2015, the USA Softball JO Cup serves as an opportunity for evaluation by the USA Softball Women’s National Team coaching staff and Selection Committee. The inaugural JO Cup featured 32 teams in the 18-Under division and has grown to include a 16-Under and 14-Under division over the past several years. Spread across three age divisions, the 2023 JO Cup looks to include a total of 72 teams while featuring a five-game guarantee with three pool play games leading into double-elimination bracket play. A blind draw will be conducted for each bracket with protection given to the first and second-place finishers from the previous year.
“We are super excited to bring the 2023 USA Softball Junior Olympic Cup to Polk County,” said USA Softball Event Manager and JO Cup Tournament Director, Julie Whiteaker. “This event serves as a perfect example of the pipeline USA Softball fosters in providing athletes, coaches and recruiters alike with the opportunity to gain exposure and experience among some of the sport’s best. Looking ahead to the seventh edition of this event, we are eager to begin working alongside Polk County as we prepare to welcome some of the nation’s top athletes in pursuit of the JO Cup title.”