Hundreds of Texas and Oklahoma softball players headed to Denison this weekend for the city’s 36th Annual Snowball Classic tournament.

The event began Friday night at the T-Bar Fields complex and was organized by the Denison Parks and Recreation Department. After the opening night’s home run derby, 62 men’s and mixed teams entered into their respective brackets for Saturday and Sunday games, some of which were scheduled late into the night. Organizers were not immediately available for comment Saturday, but said an estimated 1,000 local and visiting players were expected to participate.

“It is such a unique tournament because, number one, it is a non-sanctioned event, so no one member is tied to a specific team,” Recreation Program Manager Andrew Means told the Herald Democrat Thursday. “This makes it a good time for everyone to catch up with their buddies and friends that they haven’t played with in a long time.”

The tournament accepted teams and players of all skill levels and was based on double-elimination rules. Means said the tournament accepted two more teams than it did last year and with so many in the brackets, those teams were expected to play as many as 12 games before reaching the championship. While some teams took up in hotels for the tournament, others set up camp near the field with tents and travel trailers.

Men’s teams also competed against one another without home run limits, allowing scores to climb into the double digits.

“We’ve seen some scores that got up into the 40s and some that, due to run rules, have only had two innings played because there was so much scoring,” Means said.

Pitcher Chad Patterson and the Rubber Ducks of Dallas-Fort Worth were up 13-0 Saturday afternoon.

“Gotta love those unlimited home runs,” Patterson said. “You get to open up and don’t have to hold back.”

Despite the competition — and the always-colorful commentary from opposing dugouts — Patterson said the sport of softball still brings players and lovers of the game together.

“For me, my team is like another family,” Patterson said. “I’m an ex-baseball player, a lot of these guys are ex-baseball players so a lot of guys who still want to enjoy the game can be out here, make new friends, make new family.”

Lucky Boswell and the Tony Walker Plumbing Team traveled to the tournament from Oklahoma. Boswell said he was surprised to see just how large the competitive softball community was after getting involved in the sport several years ago. With his teammates at bat, Boswell encouraged those unsure about playing softball to step up to the plate themselves and take a swing at it.

“Get out and practice, take some batting practice and have some fun,” Boswell said. “Then maybe get on Facebook, find a softball page, find a team. See where you’d fit in and work your way up. Be humble and play hard.”