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Arizona softball’s annual trip to Mary Nutter Classic cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

FloSports: FloSoftball Mary Nutter Classic Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The annual Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, the tournament’s website announced Tuesday.

Originally set to take place Feb. 25-28, 2021, the MNCC is the most iconic early-season tournament in college softball, partly because of the Big League Dreams Cathedral City complex, whose fields are designed after iconic MLB venues like Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

Arizona was scheduled to participate for the 12th straight year.

The other teams set to be in the field were: Bethune-Cookman, BYU, Cal, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, Missouri, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Seattle U, Texas A&M, UCLA, UC Riverside, San Diego and Washington.

“2020 has been a challenging time for everyone and sports are not immune to those issues. Running an event the size and scope of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic is a large logistic undertaking in a normal year without adding the impact of COVID-19 and safety protocols for participants,” the tournament’s site says.

“While making plans for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, we always want to make sure that the health and well being of our participating student-athletes, coaches, umpires, and staff is our number one concern. It also has become apparent that the pandemic still leaves too many unanswered questions about the upcoming season in regards to safely hosting events with fans. So regretfully we are going to cancel the 2021 MNCC to allow our teams to find other opportunities to play games. We are already making plans for the 2022 softball season and expect to welcome teams and fans back to Big League Dreams Cathedral City for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic scheduled for the weekend of February 24-27, 2022.”

Arizona coach Mike Candrea said a couple of weeks ago that the Wildcats’ 2021 schedule was set but that he was worried about the viability of early-season tournaments like the Mary Nutter.

The Wildcats are also scheduled to play in an early-season tournament in Irvine, California against Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Cal State Northridge and LMU.

“We are kind of on hold, waiting for the Pac-12 to come down with what their protocols are going to look like for us to play non-conference games,” Candrea said a few weeks ago. “If our schedule goes the way it is, it’ll be great, but there’s still some question marks as far as those multi-team tournaments that are not on college campuses that are going to be kind of the question mark for me.

“Baseball and softball are quote ‘a medium-risk sport’ and we know for the high-risk sports what the protocols look like there, we know what the low-risk sports look like. But we don’t really know what ours are yet.”