Demopolis welcomes 13U teams

Published 11:38 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

In what is becoming a bit of an annual endeavor for the city, Demopolis welcomed nine visiting teams and coaches from around the state Friday night during a dinner at First Baptist Church. The event served as the unofficial start to the 2010 Babe Ruth 13U Alabama State Tournament.

The festivities, which begin Saturday, mark the fourth time in five years Demopolis has hosted a state baseball tournament for either the Cal Ripken or Babe Ruth age divisions.

“We’re the best,” Rob Pearson, who has managed such tournament in the past and will this year serve as an assistant coach for the hosting West Alabama team, said. “I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Since we held the first one in 2006 and left a favorable impression, they gave us another one in 2009. And it has just been another one every year since. We’ve already been awarded the nine-year-old tournament for 2011.”

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This year’s draw is a little different than the 2009 10U team as it is for an older age group and, according to tournament director Art Evans, is more involved in many ways.

“This is a bigger tournament,” Evans said. “There are different things to plan for with an older age group. The fact we’re going to be playing on two fields will present some challenges to us.”

The bracket will see the 10 teams divided into two groups, the Black Warrior Pool and the Tombigbee Pool.

Host team West Alabama will join Theodore, Wetumpka, Huntsville and Atmore in the Black Warrior pool. Etowah County, Opp, Matthews Park, Childersburg and District 10 representative Bibb County will play in the Tombigbee Pool.

Each team will play all other squads in its group between Saturday and Monday before the top two seeds from each pool move on to a single-elimination bracket Tuesday.

“I don’t believe there is any difference in pressure,” Pearson said about the unique position the host team is in during the tournament. “I think they are excited about playing the teams that are on their schedule. there is a lot less pressure I think These kids have a familiarity that comes with playing at the Sports-Plex.”

While the local 13U team feels little pressure going into the tournament, Pearson said he believes the city of Demopolis takes plenty of pressure onto itself.

“It seems to get bigger. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best. We really feel like we have a reputation to uphold now,” Pearson explained. “There is a lot of pride involved in representing Demopolis. That is the pressure really that we are adequately representing the people of this town.”

Evans furthered that thought, adding that undertakings such as this weekend’s tournament are the products of group, and often citywide, efforts.

“There is no way I can do it by myself or any one individual could,” Evans said of the events.

Evans, the local Cal Ripken league commissioner, said that the organization of the tournament came from committees headed by Pearson, Dereck Morrison, Charles Singleton and Mark Pettus.

“Without those four committees and everything that is involved accordingly, it would not get done,” Evans said, also citing the contributions of a handful of local businesses as being integral to the event’s success. “Rock-Tenn really has made a major contribution toward this tournament and the next tournament.”

The event will begin with an invocation and the singing of the national anthem at 10:30 Saturday morning. Official opening ceremonies will be Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.

The West Alabama team will play at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against Wetumpka before challenging Atmore that evening. West Alabama then plays Sunday at 7 p.m. against Theodore before rounding out pool play Monday at 6:30 p.m. against Huntsville.