Community ready for 14U tournament
Finding a hotel room in Demopolis may be a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack this weekend as the city sits on ready for the opening of the Babe Ruth League 14U Southeast Regional.
“It’s pretty huge,” Jennifer Tate, director of the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce, said. “We have been dealing with people calling in, looking for hotels. It is 11 teams coming to our town and it should be beneficial for everybody as far as hotels, restaurants and, of course, the baseball park.”
Such tournament are becoming a regular occurrence for the city as Demopolis has hosted a state baseball tournament four out of the last five years, including last month’s Babe Ruth 13U state draw. But this weekend will mark the first regional tournament the city has seen.
“With any of them, you take the seriously,” Rob Pearson, tournament director, said. “Every tournament we’ve done, we make sure every I is dotted and T is crossed.”
Although he has become a veteran at conducting such events, Pearson admitted that this one carries with it a little more pressure.
Pearson indicated the added pressure for organizers is correlated with the tournament’s double-elimination format, a bracket type that is in stark contrast with the standard pool play approach of state tournaments. As such, each game matters a little more, placing a little more pressure on umpires and decision makers.
“With this being a double-elimination, there is a little bit more of a do or die attitude in each game,” Pearson said. “The pressure to get it right is on in each game. This is a special opportunity.”
The winner of this weekend’s tournament at the Sports-Plex will go on to compete in the Babe Ruth 14U World Series. And Tate, who attended the 12U Cal Ripken Alabama State Tournament in Childersburg and the 12U Southeast Regional in Lakeland, Fla., feels there may be no better place for the 14U Southeast bracket to be decided than the Sports-Plex.
“I can tell you that our facilities are tops,” Tate said. “Our facilities are supreme compared to where we were.”
“The Sports-Plex is ready,” Pearson added. “It is just a matter of getting the teams here and throwing the ball out there now.”
Play in the bracket will begin Thursday at 10 a.m. when Sarasota, Fla. challenges Lexington, Tenn. Vienna, Va. will face Monroe County at 1 p.m. Tallahassee, Fla. challenges Columbus, Ga. at 4 p.m before tourney host Demopolis takes on Union County, N.C. at 7 p.m. Pitt County, N.C., Anderson, S.C., Kingsport, Tenn. and Sylacauga will all begin play Friday.