The annual three-day Softball South Africa (SSA) Masters tournament will kick-off at Turfhall Softball Stadium on Saturday 21 September.Organisers say the event is going to be “bigger and better than ever before” as a record number of 20 ladies’ teams are scheduled to take part in this year’s tournament.“The Masters, a division of SSA, utilises this event to honour those sporting legends, heroes and icons that made a significant contribution to the development, transformation and growth of softball in South Africa,” says SSA spokesperson Karen Blanchard. Last year’s ladies winner, Westridge Yankees Maestros, will be back to defend their title,. However, Battswood, Blackheath, Kenfac Phillies, Michigan, Table View Tornados and Mandela Bay Flamingos (all the way from the Eastern Cape) are the newcomers to watch. In the men’s division, last year’s winners, Flames, are back in action, with Cape Town teams Pirates, Khayelitsha Eagles and Table View Tornados to garner some strong support from locals. SSA says there will be enough to keep the crowds entertained throughout the tournament, with live broadcasting of other weekend sporting action on the clubhouse’s big screen.“The tournament falls in September, which is Heritage Month. Our theme for the tournament is: ‘Celebrating Heritage in Diversity’. We have introduced a heritage prize for the team that best displays heritage and diversity in colour,” adds Blanchard, confirming that the winner will receive R5 000. The local softball fraternity joined hands with their baseball counterparts to show their solidarity against gender-based violence, which the award will further go on to highlight on a national level.“With the violence happening in our country, we need to celebrate our heritage, our diversity and remind each other of Ubuntu, I am because we are. “As Softball Masters Organisation, we pledge to use sport to celebrate our heritage and to strengthen our social cohesion. We sincerely thank the media in advance for their support in covering the Masters Tournament. The countdown has officially begun,” says Blanchard.