ASHLAND — It’s the weekend area high school softball fans look forward to all year long.
The 26th edition of the Wendy’s Spring Classic will take to the diamonds at Brookside and Brookside West beginning Thursday and running through Saturday.
The annual showcase event features 16 teams from Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey. Defending Division IV state champ Hillsdale headlines a list of four local entrants that includes Madison, Ontario and Ashland.
Ontario, which suffered its first two losses this week after opening the season with 10 straight wins, will make its first ever appearance at the Wendy’s. First-year coach Sean Snow can’t wait to see how his Warriors stack up against some of the state’s top teams.
“That’s the whole point of us going,” Snow said. “We want to play good competition because we feel that will make us better.”
The Warriors won’t have to wait long to find out where they stand. Ontario opens against Donovan (N.J.) Catholic at 5 p.m. Friday at Brookside West.
“They are one of the better teams in New Jersey from what I understand,” Snow said. “We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Ontario and Donovan are in Pool B along with Ashland and Lebanon, a Division I regional runner-up last year. Ontario and Ashland, which is making its 24th appearance in the Classic, will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at Brookside West.
Madison is in Pool D along with Leo (Indiana), Miamisburg and North Union, a Division III state semifinalist last spring. The Rams open against Miamisburg at 7 p.m. Friday at Brookside West.
“We like playing in the Wendy’s because, aside from the great competition, we also get to play in a tournament-like atmosphere,” veteran Madison coach Tim Niswander said. “That’s not always something that’s easy to create.”
Hillsdale will be making its 25th consecutive appearance in the Wendy’s, more than any other school. The Falcons, who won their seventh state championship last spring, have the most wins (33) in tournament history. Hillsdale is in Pool A with Mount St. Dominic (N.J.), Austintown Fitch and Greenville. The Falcons open against Fitch at 7 p.m. Friday at Brookside’s main diamond.