By Bob Behre

Here comes Olympic softball legend Jennie Finch and the Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational tournament to Diamond Nation this weekend in Flemington, N.J.

The five age-group event boasts 72 teams that begin their tournament run at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and conclude with the five championship games on Sunday afternoon and evening. Meanwhile, Jennie Finch will be on-hand to help instruct, encourage and fire up the girls on the first two days of the three-day event.

“I always look forward to Diamond Nation softball weekends,” said Finch. “It’s always such a blast seeing and meeting the future of our sport. It’s truly special to see all the families that come out to support their players, as they spend time together and make memories that they will cherish forever.”

The big weekend kicks off on Friday with an outstanding clinic spearheaded by Finch and Diamond Nation’s outstanding group of instructors. The clinic runs from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and concludes with a questions and answers session and a meet-and-greet with Finch.

The tournament itself gets underway at 8 a.m. on Saturday when the 10U, 12U, 14U and 16U levels each have a pair of openers. The 18U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational doesn’t get going until mid-afternoon on Saturday.

The 10U field begins play at 8 a.m. on Saturday when the Finch’s Aces square off with Team Long Island and the Rawlings Wildcats take on Banshees Red. The eight-team 10U field chases its championship beginning at 8 a.m. on Sunday with the first round games. The 10U semifinals are set for 11 a.m. and the championship game is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. on Field 5A.

The Staten Island Saints, South Jersey Mystics, Renegades and Carteret Craze help round out a formidable 10U field.

The 12U Fall Invitational features a 20-team field that begins its play at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Diamond Nation. Classie Lassie Heat plays the 12U Finch’s Aces and Team Long Island 2024 faces the Delaware Vipers Black in a pair of intriguing openers.

The 12U playoffs is an all-in affair with the preliminary round set for 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, followed by first round games both at 1:30 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. The 12U quarterfinals will be contested at 3:40 p.m. before the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. and the championship game is at 7 p.m. on Field 4A.

Fury Fastpitch, Jersey Girls, NJ Pride, Saratoga Thunder, Phantoms and the Renegades bolster a deep 12U field.

The 20-team 14U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational field opens play at 8 a.m. on Saturday as the Long Island Thunder 2004 Black meets the 14U Finch’s Aces and the Steamtown Maulers encounter the Randolph Pride.

The 14U Fall Invitational playoffs is an all-day affair on Sunday. The preliminary round starts the championship drive at 8 a.m. First round play is set for 9:30 p.m. The quarterfinals begin at 11 a.m. and the semifinals follow at 3:40 p.m. on Fields 1A and 1B. The 14U championship game will be contested at 5:30 p.m. on Field 1B.

New York Bluefire, NJ Mystics, Staten Island Patriots, East Coast Tsunami and South Jersey Pride are a few more of the talented teams in the deep 14U field.

The 16U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational boasts a field that includes Adirondack USSSA Pride 16U, Forks Thunder, New Jersey Panthers, NJ Sparks 16U, Pocono Pride 16U Red and the Staten Island Saints. The 16U tournament opens with a pair of neat matchups at 8 a.m. on Saturday. The Pa. Strikers 16U Elite play NW Explosion and Akadema Futures puts forth a stiff challenge against the 16U Finch’s Aces. 

The 16U playoffs begin with first round play at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The quarterfinals are at 11 a.m., followed by the semifinals at 2:10 p.m. The 16U championship game is at 5:30 p.m. on Field 6. 

The 18U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational field is the last to take the field. East Coast Tsunami 18U Gold faces NW Explosion in one of the 3:40 p.m. openers on Saturday.

The 18U playoffs is a 12-team chase for the championship, beginning with first round games at 2:10 p.m. on Sunday and the quarterfinals at 3:40 p.m. The 18U semifinals will be contested on Fields 2 and 3A before the winners convene on Field 2 for championship.

Chiefs Fastpitch Gold, Finch’s Aces 18U Premier, Spitfire and NJ Sparks 18U Gold fortify an excellent field.