City will be hotbed for youth tournaments|[03/30/08]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2008

Halls Ferry Park will be a busy place for baseball tournaments in the coming months.

Eleven state tournaments and five USSSA Invitationals are on tap for the complex as the Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association celebrates its first year as the new baseball organization in town.

Ricky Mitchell, a supporter of the newly merged VWAA, and a representative of the Aquila Group which will be overseeing the refurbishments for the city’s baseball and softball facilities, said the tournaments this year are a good start.

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“What it means is more baseball and more is definitely better in this case,” Mitchell said. “These tournaments bring money into the city. They fill up our hotels and restaurants and those tax dollars go to Vicksburg and Warren County.

“The only thing that is limiting us in becoming a major player of these tournaments is field capacity. The Aquilla Group is planning on building 16 new fields. By next year, some of the new ones should be ready and the city of Vicksburg will be a hot property next year.”

As for this year, the Aquilla Group is sponsoring five tournaments, including a preseason tournament that concludes today called Grip It and Rip It I. Four more invitationals are scheduled throughout the spring.

On April 25-27, Halls Ferry will host Smash Bash Blowout I, a tournament for 8, 9, 11, 12 and 14-year-olds. On May 2-4, Grip and Rip It II comes in for 10, 12, 12 13-year-olds. Smash Mash Blowout II will have two tournaments the weekend of June 6-8. The first tourney will be for 8-yard-olds on a machine pitch.

“All these tournaments have been classified NIT’s by USSSA. In USSSA, teams are awarded points on how they do,” Mitchell said. “An NIT Tournament is worth double points. Instead of getting 75 for winning a certain tournament a team that wins these NITs would get 150 points. That means we’ll be getting some really good teams in here.

“For our first tournanment, we have them coming in from southern Arkansas, Louisiana and other parts of Mississippi,” Mitchell said.

Beginning in mid-June, the first of the 11 state tournaments begins. The first five will all be USSSA Tournaments.

“These will be for our league all-stars. Two of them are classified as open and the other three are all-star tournaments.”

The two open tournanments, set for June 19-22, will be the USSSA State Open Coach Pitch and the USSSA 6-year-old Trial Open. The three all-star tournaments are the 8-yard-old USSSA State Machine Pitch, the 11 USSSA State All-Star and the 12 USSSA State All-Star.

Because the VWAA will keep its double affiliation, they will also get to host Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth tournaments in July.

On July 3-6, Halls Ferry was awarded the Cal Ripken 60-foot-base state tournaments for the 11-and 12-year-olds.

That same weekend, Babe Ruth will hold its state tournaments for the 16- and 16-18 Babe Ruth All-Stars.

A week later on July 11-13, Babe Ruth will hold state tournaments for the 13 abnd 14-year-old divisions.

After a two week break, the summer concludes with the annual Governors Cup.

Vicksburg Warren Athletic AssociationTournament Scheduleat Halls Ferry ParkDateTournamentClassAgesApril 25-27 Smash Bash Blowout I USSSA NIT 8, 9, 11, 12, 14May 2-4 Grip It & Rip II USSSA NIT 10, 11, 12, 13June 6-8 Smash Bash Blowout II NIT 8 machine pitchJune 6-8 Smash Bash Blowout II NIT 9, 11, 12, 14June 19-22 USSSA Trial Open USSSA 6June 19-22 USSSA State Open Coach Pitch USSSA 7June 19-22 USSSA State Machine Pitch USSSA 8June 19-22 USSSA State All-Star USSSA 11June 19-22 USSSA State All-Star USSSA 12July 3-6 Cal Ripken State 60-foot Bases Cal Ripken 11July 3-6 Cal Ripken State 60-foot Bases Cal Ripken 12July 3-6 Babe Ruth State Babe Ruth16July 3-6 Babe Ruth State Babe Ruth 16-18July 11-13 Babe Ruth State Babe Ruth 13July 11-13 Babe Ruth State Babe Ruth 14July 25-27 Governor’s CupAug. 1-3 Governor’s Cup