Governor’s Cup undergoes another adjustment

Published 10:05 am Friday, August 21, 2015

The first big change to the Governor’s Cup schedule turned out not to be the last.

Vicksburg’s biggest youth baseball tournament, which shifted dates from early to late August this year, will get under way Saturday at Bazinsky Field.

The 16-and-under age group, however, will be the only one playing. Because of various scheduling conflicts and issues, the other even-numbered age groups will play at Halls Ferry Park Sept. 11-13.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association president Josh Fairley said the latest schedule adjustment was necessary to accommodate a number of teams that had just organized for the new USSSA season.

“We’ve had strong interest from those younger groups, but a lot of them have just completed tryouts and have only had a couple of practices,” Fairley said. “We anticipated a little bit of a bumpy road as we made the transition to a USSSA-sanctioned tournament, and this was one of the things we didn’t see coming.”

Odd-numbered age groups will still play next weekend, Aug. 28-30. The tournament will take Labor Day weekend off, then return for the even-numbered age group tournaments Sept. 11-13.

Other than makeups of rained-out tournaments, this will be the first time in its 23-year history that the Governor’s Cup has been played on three weekends. For 20 years it was an open tournament — meaning any team could play regardless of their league affiliation — held in late July or early August, but the VWAA moved it back a month to become a USSSA-sanctioned event.

The United States Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA, is one of the country’s largest governing bodies for youth sports. Most of Mississippi’s major youth baseball tournaments are USSSA-sanctioned events.

The move has been a popular one. After several years of declining participation, Fairley said he’s had calls from nearly 100 coaches inquiring about the 2015 Governor’s Cup. They all had a similar response, however — they’d like to come, but preferred to wait a few more weeks. So, to keep everyone happy and make the tournament a success, the VWAA board changed the date a second time.

“I think it’s going to help us significantly. I feel we’re going to see the registration numbers really pick up and at least be in line with what we’ve seen the last couple of years,” Fairley said.

The one exception to the list of teams wanting a later date was the 16-and-under age group. A number of players of that age also participate in high school football, and pushing the tournament back might have led teams to back out. So Fairley and the VWAA board elected to keep that tournament on this weekend while separating the rest of the even-numbered age groups.

Five teams, mostly from Jackson and Monroe, will play their tournament Saturday and Sunday at Bazinsky Field. Games will start at 9 a.m. Saturday and continue through the day and evening. Admission is $5 per person.

“With the 16-and-under group, we did have an interest in playing this weekend. Teams wanted to play, and there are limited opportunities for them. Moving things out didn’t help them, so we kept it the same,” Fairley said.

Fairley added that the new Governor’s Cup schedule is a work in progress. Drastic changes after 20 years came with a number of challenges, some of which were anticipated and some of which were not. He insisted, however, that the VWAA is learning from all of them and working to make fixes.

“We’ll make adjustments for next year so we can circumvent some of the challenges we’ve come across this year,” Fairley said.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest