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State of the Site – Year 6: The Final Relaunch

There’s quite a range of emotions for me when the calendar turns from December to January.


On one end of the spectrum, there’s a renewed sense of energy. While we don’t have frost in the Sunshine State, the figurative frost is getting knocked off the locks of fields across our area. State championship rings have been polished and handed out, fall ball’s over and the high school age travel ball programs are closing up shop for the spring.


In my house and my mind, there’s plenty of energy. It’s significantly more frantic when I look at the calendar and ask myself how ten days have already passed by in the year’s first month.


Then I find myself more in a tiff when I look at my phone and realize there are about six text messages from a coach I haven’t responded to about the Elite Invitational.


Oopsies. Life happens, I suppose?


If you’re new here, my name’s Will Turner, and you’ve stumbled upon a passion project of a website that’s miraculously in the back half of its first decade of existence.


Holy crap. That’s kind of wild.


This is our annual ‘State of the Site’ update, where I allow the community to see the inner workings of my mind and where the website is at. Its State of the Union, if you will. I’ve always been a major believer in journalistic transparency – this is my way to provide it.


Let’s wrap up Year 5, which was one of the most competitive, even seasons I’ve seen since paying attention to the area. The Polk County powers ended up back on top between Bartow and Lake Wales, we crowned another first-time state champion in Parrish Community’s fourth year of existence, Calvary went back-to-back and Plant’s run to its first state title game in two decades was brilliant.


All the while, my jaw’s still agape with the drama out of Class 6A-Region 2. It was for the best that I was alone in an office when the brackets were revealed because there would’ve certainly been a noise complaint when Mitchell was given the eight seed and Palmetto was held out. It was only fitting we needed extra innings between Bloomingdale and Land O’Lakes to figure out the region’s victor.


From the site’s perspective, the season was a mixed bag. The second iteration of the Elite Invitational was spectacular. Night of Champions was born. Pulling up to Berkeley Prep with a box of plaques in red gym shorts and a Nirvana T-shirt with an hour to change into a suit, set up, coordinate speakers, a cameraman, and make sure all the honorees were in attendance was the perfect picture of how chaotic that went. But, we got through it. And it was a terrific event.


Where the mixed bag came into play was the day-to-day. Coverage after the Elite Invitational was the most inconsistent it’s been since the site’s inception. The parents reading this will nod their heads when they read this: it’s so important to surround yourself with the right company. To be around people who not only support your goals but understand and respect your goals, even if it’s a completely different method of achieving those goals. In a way, I fell victim to surrounding myself with the wrong person(s) that, ultimately, detracted from the site’s success.


Those who are close to me know that the first half of 2023 was one of the most difficult stretches of my adult life. I was mentally ill because of a job that consumed the first half of my academic year (I’ve since left and joined USF’s NIL Collective) and I put a lot of dependency on other people to get me out of a mental state I could only get myself out of.


Looking back, the site’s growth was miraculous to me, amid everything else going on.


Generous donations and sponsorships (particularly for Night of Champions) made a difference and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who gave to keep this rolling. There’s more information about how to get involved coming, so keep reading!


Let’s talk about Year 6. If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’ve already noticed that things look different. Again.


Another year, another site redesign. It’s been clear that I’ve been extremely indecisive about the site’s design over the last few seasons, but the necessity for something new has gone together with some of the other things we’re trying to accomplish at Bay Made Fastpitch. The new site has so many fun features on the back end – it feels like a child in a candy store being able to unveil a ton of new things to you all.


The first thing to note: the Elite Invitational will have an online ticketing method! When it launches, you’ll be able to purchase tickets directly from the website and check in at the gate, as opposed to being limited to just cash. That should launch close to mid-February.


And what compliments that is you’ll never miss any Elite Invitational information – including vital information before you go, when tickets go on sale, etc. – with our new email newsletter! I’m still planning on how to implement some exclusive content into it, but it will be a valuable way for readers to never miss the latest in what’s going on around the Bay, straight to your inbox.

Go to our home page and scroll to the bottom, or to our Tournament Hub page to get on that mailing list!


Now, one of the most important things for 2024: we’ve launched a Sponsorship Store! Businesses that want to get involved with Bay Made Fastpitch now have an easy way to do so, by purchasing one of the sponsorships in our store. Advertising is a huge way for us to stay alive and kicking – plus, I have to keep my lights on somehow.


The entire donation and sponsorship store process is done completely through the website this year and beyond, a brand-new feature of the website.

Check out our Sponsorship Store here and if you're an individual/parent that would like to donate, you can do that here. Thank you so much in advance for even considering the notion.


With all of that said, it’s also a good time to mention – this is it. This is (hopefully, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t) the site’s final iteration. No more redesigns, no more offseasons with the site in purgatory. A permanent home. The archives (from 2021-23) will slowly repopulate ahead of the season’s opening week. It’s an exciting time.


I’m excited to see everyone at the ballpark this spring and excited to see another tremendous season unfold across our area!


Let’s continue to make Tampa Bay the state’s premier area for softball in our state.

Will Turner

Owner, Bay Made Fastpitch


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