State tourneys start Friday; regionals, world series may be next

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2001

[07/06/01] Youth baseball descends on Vicksburg starting Friday with the hopes of attracting future regional tournaments and world series in mind.

Nineteen teams in the Cal Ripken 7-8-year-olds’ division and the Babe Ruth 9-year-olds’ division from across Mississippi began play Friday with trips to regional tournaments on the line. The regionals are one step below a world series trip.

Tournament commissioner Marshall Upton, who hosted the 12-year-olds’ tournament last year, said he hopes by next year to get a regional. A World Series in Vicksburg is a legitimate possibility for 2004.

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“If everything goes right and we get a commitment from the city, we’ll have a world series here in three years,” Upton said.

Vicksburg could have hosted a regional this year, Upton said, but because of the city elections, the fields have not gotten the attention they should have. Sid Beauman, the former Vicksburg Parks and Recreation Director, was elected South Ward Alderman one month ago.

The new director, Craig Upton, said the facility should be able to host a regional next year. He and a seven-man crew were working on Thursday in preparation for the double-elimination tournament.

“It’s like weeding a flower bed,” said Craig Upton, Marshall Upton’s brother. “If you let it go over the course of a year, you have one big chore. But if you keep it maintained, it won’t be hard to fix.”

Craig Upton said his crew was touching up the National and Bluff fields at Halls Ferry Park.

The tournament started Friday morning with the championship games on Sunday.

“The fields are really playable right now,” Craig Upton said. “We have some minimal things to do, but overall, they’re in good shape.”

In each age group, Vicksburg will have two teams a district champion and a host team.

Marshall Upton, who has a son on the 7-8-year-olds’ team, said watching the young players is getting a look at the future.

“Anyone who loved watching Warren Central baseball this year and the way the game was played, this is just a smaller version of it,” he said of the Vikings’ high school state championship. “This is how they started, too.”

Winning teams advance to Arkansas for the regionals.

“You get to see good baseball, it’s a community thing to do and it’s their town,” Marshall Upton said. “It’s a good thing to watch.”