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12 states send teams to Corky’s 44th

Corky's, softball, Owatonna, Steele County, Early Bird Classic, 2024
Corky’s Early Bird Classic features a multitude of fair vendors with a plethora of fan-favorite foods. Available options ranged from cheese curds and corndogs to the tournament’s prized pork patties. Staff photo by Johnnie Phillips
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

Corky’s Early Bird Softball Classic is one of Owatonna’s largest annual events and 2024 will be no exception as 150 total teams from 12 states make the trek to southern Minnesota with softball glory on the line.

Tournament teams range from as far west as California to Rhode Island on the east coast, truly making Corky’s a nationwide tournament.

Tournament director Loren Dietz estimates that the tournament brings in about $600,000 in revenue for local businesses, as well as donating “between $30,000-50,000 back to local charities.”

Charities set to benefit from this year’s action include Owatonna & Faribault Parks and Recreation Youth Scholarship Funds, and the project fund to update local sports facilities.

As always, Corky’s will highlight the strength of local pork producers as the tournament aims to sell over 10,000 pork burgers over the course of the weekend.

However, spectators will still have a plethora of different food options courtesy of local vendors.

Tom Thumb Donuts and Schroder Fair Concession Stands will also be on site, as well as a full bar courtesy of the Knights of Columbus.

Action for the tournament begins on Friday, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Steele County Fairgrounds Ballpark and North Alexander Ballpark in Faribault.

The tournament’s first highlight match is set to begin at 8 p.m. on Friday when California’s Monsta Athletics face off with Iowa’s Peper Farms.

According to Dietz, the showdown between two of the nation’s top teams will take place in the Men’s Open Division.

A press release from Corky’s mentions a $30,000 tournament prize pool and also offers top teams from the C, D, E and Open Divisions a national tournament berth.

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