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Lasting impressions

The Babe Ruth 14U State Championship Tournament wrapped up late Tuesday night, bringing to a close an event that served to bring positive publicity to the community at large.

“We really appreciate the hospitality we’ve been shown here in Demopolis,” Carol Daniel, who was in town to cheer on her son and his Hunstville Eastern team, said.

“I think it’s been wonderful,” Ann Brabston, mother of a Cottage Hill player, said.

“Everybody in town has been so nice.”

Chris Stewart, manager of the West Alabama 14U team, expressed his gratitude to organizers for the effort they put into the event.

“(I want to) thank the Demopolis Baseball Board for the tournament it put on,” Stewart said. “I’ve got to give a shout out to (tournament director) Rob (Pearson) for the job he’s done.”

Pearson was adamant that the event’s success was due entirely to a collaborative community effort.

“To name names would do a lot of people disservice. It wasn’t just people at the games, it was people around town,” Pearson said. “As tournament director, you go out and put Demopolis on the line. It makes you proud when Demopolis comes through.”

The festivities began Thursday when teams, coaches and families gathered at Fairhaven Baptist Church for a kickoff banquet.

“The parents of this West Alabama team set the tone with the banquet,” Pearson said of the host team’s families, who organized the initial reception. “It gave everybody an A-plus impression and the Sports-Plex and their staff never let up.”

While many visitors raved about the hospitality of Demopolis citizens, the Sports-Plex also received its fair share of buzz throughout the four days of play.

“The fields were in really good condition. The grass was as good as a golf course green,” Chris McCain, Huntsville Eastern player, said.

“It was all nice to me. It was better than at our place,” Huntsville Eastern player Brace Daniel added.

The event, the culmination of months of planning, also reportedly made a positive impression on Eugene Reynolds, state commissioner for the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth leagues, helping the city to secure the 2009 Cal Ripken 10U State Championship Tournament.