The 37th annual Corky's Early Bird Men's Slow Pitch Softball Tournament featured a record-breaking field of 176 teams and one of the best weather weekends in its history.

The early bird approach of the annual tournament in Owatonna has meant a variety of weather issues from chilly wind, low temperatures, rain and sleet to a one-week postponement during the May snowstorm of 2013. No such problems came up this year as 176 teams battled in the 37th edition of the tournament, which is named after Owatonna Parks and Recreation director James "Corky" Ebeling. Tournament director Loren Dietz said, "It was great weather for the tournament and most likely the first year ever that we hit 80 degrees. This occurred Friday night which helped us reach a record crowd. Concession sales hit an all-time high."

Deitz indicated that games ran a bit late Saturday and Sunday but that everything ran smoothly otherwise.

In the Open Division, OC from Iowa won the title. WC Monsta from California was second. In the C Division, Comatose from Wisconsin, T's 13 and GS Sports earned national berths.

The D/E Division featured 96 teams with Smash It Sports, The Shante and Midwest Sound landing the top three spots and national tournament bids.

Dietz says the "Hometown Division was a huge success. Teams had fun and tournament was set up early. We will likely do this again next year." The top three finishers were CWS/Bashers from Faribault, Hit Squad of Owatonna and Team Beards of Owatonna.

The top teams in the coed division were Mahany Law, MF Softball and TC Turmoil.

Dietz says a special thanks to the sponsors, with whose help field renovations will finish this fall. Diamond 1 will get new dugouts, backstop and side fences. Owatonna Foundation is helping with a matching donation. Proceeds from the event also benefit the parks and recreation youth scholarship fund. Money raised is also donated to local youth slow-pitch and fast-pitch teams and the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Fund.

He also thanks the many volunteers, including Doug Meier, who ran the concessions. "This is a huge job and I don't know how he does it." Other volunteers include Joe Clammer, Lynn Anderson-Kiefer, Eric Stanton, Jeremy Reuvers, Corky Ebeling, Mark Buecksler, Dan Pfeffer, Jeff Barnes, Mary Ulrich, Cherie Meier, Stefanie Ruhter, Kristin Iverson, Kim Lundeen and Rich Cress. "That's a lot of great people." Many local organizations also contributed time and services to the event.