Number of teams rises slightly for this year’s Governor’s Cup

Published 11:42 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Governor’s Cup’s position on the youth baseball calendar has always given it a unique status among Mississippi’s tournaments. As time goes on, that’s becoming both a blessing and a curse.

The Governor’s Cup returns for its 19th installment Friday at Halls Ferry Park and the Bazinsky Park softball fields. As the last major tournament of the summer season, the Cup remains popular with a lot of teams — 37 will participate in this weekend’s even-numbered age groups, and 44 more are committed for next week’s odd-numbered age groups.

The number of other tournaments earlier in the year, however, has dropped that number significantly in the past few years. As recently as 2008, more than 100 teams participated. In 2009, a total of 89 teams played and last year the number dipped to 72.

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“The tournament numbers are down from years past, but that’s a direct result of there being so many tournaments in the state,” said Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association board member Scott Verhine. The tournament is put on by the VWAA and all proceeds benefit the organization. “A lot of teams have played so much that they’re ready to move on to football. You didn’t have this many tournaments in 2007, 2008, 2009.”

Despite the downward trend, Verhine said there are benefits to playing late in the summer and no plans to move the Governor’s Cup to a different time of year. The USSSA year ends on July 31, and the second weekend of the Governor’s Cup is played on the first weekend in August. That allows teams that plan to play the following year to get a jumpstart on earning points that qualify them for bigger tournaments.

Playing after the state tournaments that take place in June and July also allows teams to have one last tournament together before the end of the season — a fact that has always been a drawing card.

“We know the Governor’s Cup is well-advertised. We put it in newspapers all over the state and we called every coach that’s played in it before. For this late a tournament, we have a good number of teams,” Verhine said.

The opening weekend of the 2011 Governor’s Cup will largely resemble past editions. Next weekend, however, there will be an 8-and-under kid pitch tournament offered for the first time, as well as a large 15-16-year-olds’ division that will include seven teams.

There is a chance of rain in the forecast for each day this weekend, but Verhine said he wasn’t concerned about the possibility of a rainout. In 18 previous tournaments, only twice has an entire day of games been lost to rain.

“It’s the same thing every year. It’s always hot and there’s always a chance of rain,” Verhine said. “The city has a crew on standby to take care of the fields. That’s part of baseball. We’ll deal with it as it comes.”