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Play ball: Cal Ripken Leagues first pitch is on April 7

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Approximately 250 young men aged 4 through 12 have been hard at work since early March in preparation for the start of the Cal Ripken Baseball League season.

The league will start its second season of Demopolis play April 7. With one season in the books and another rapidly approaching, league organizers have had ample opportunity to assess last year&8217;s decision to switch to Cal Ripken play.

Another influencing factor in the decision to make the conversion to Cal Ripken was the growing popularity of the league.

Parten and Pearson both cited rules and tournament scheduling differences as primary motivators for the change.

Official opening ceremonies will take place on George Spence Day, April 12.

The league, which boasts 21 teams across its five age groups, relies heavily on community involvement and local sponsorship in order to run effectively.

According to Parten, the success of the Cal Ripken league feeds directly into the rich baseball tradition in Demopolis.

However, the nearly 250 players who make up the league are largely unconcerned with sponsorships, rule changes, scheduling differences or even whether they will be playing in the middle school or high school levels. Their focus seems largely to be on the task at hand, baseball.

The regular season will run through late May, leading up to a round robin tournament to determine league champions. Those champions will move on to district tournaments in June and play for the chance to compete in the state tournaments in July.

Demopolis will host the state tournament for the 14-year-old division beginning July 19. The event is expected to welcome 10-12 teams to the area for a span of four days. Between dining and lodging, league officials anticipate an economic impact of approximately $500,000 from the tournament.