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VGSA hosting a 12-team tournament at Betty Hearn Complex Friday and Saturday

For many kids, summer break is all about relaxing after a long school year.

For area softball players though, summer is a time for extra repetitions and a chance to hone their craft before next season.

Five local teams, including the regional travel ball team Mississippi Blaze, will be among the 12 teams competing in a youth softball tournament at the Betty Hearn Softball Complex at Bazinsky Park Friday and Saturday. The tournament is hosted by the Vicksburg Girls Softball Association.

“It gives them five more weeks of practice, and it gives them five more weeks of playing games,” Mike Foley with the VGSA said. “It gives the girls a lot of development. It allows them to enhance their skills and work on their skills. That is the reason why we do it. It really does help the girls.”

The Vicksburg stop is the first in a five-week schedule for select teams in the region.

The tournament has been in the works since February, and will give players valuable extra reps in practice and games.

Teams will compete in an 8-under division, 10-under division and 12-under division.

“We’ve been working with the local cities around us to put together a schedule, which allowed recreation girls to play tournaments at the end of the season,” Foley said. “Vicksburg is number one, Pearl is the host city for number two, Delhi, Louisiana is the host city for number three, Wesson is the host for number fourand then the last week of the month, it goes back into Pearl for a championship weekend.”

Joining the Mississippi Blaze in the tournament will be VGSA select teams in the 8-under division, 10-under division and two teams in the 12-under division.

“They are select team where the coaches select VGSA girls to play on their team,” Foley said.

  1. Games will begin Friday evening and continue throughout Saturday until a champion is crowned.

Foley said they expect each team to bring at least 30 fans along, which provides a boon to both the VGSA and the Vicksburg economy.

“Having a tournament in Vicksburg, in our park, generates money for the Vicksburg girls and it allows us to give back to our girls,” Foley said. “There’s seven team from the outside coming in. They are bringing in at least 30 fans in each so you are bringing another 200 people to the city of Vicksburg to see our park, to see the improvements we’ve made in our park. They are going to eat in restaurants on the way in, and they’re going to eat in restaurants on the way out.”

The tournament also enables local teams to play on familiar fields with plenty of fans in the stands to support them.

“I would love to play here as much as we can,” Blaze head coach Nathan Karel said. “Their family can come watch them. It would be great if we could have more tournaments here in Vicksburg. It is unreal the amount of teams we see every weekend we go. Any time we can play here, it is great.”

The Blaze hosted a tournament at the Betty Hearn Complex in April, and Karole said they hope to host more tournaments if the proposed Sports Complex gets built.

“You can bring a lot to a town,” Karel said. “It would be really, really nice to have a better complex here where we could throw bigger tournaments.”

The tournament will start with pool play before moving into a double-elimination bracket.

Friday night’s games will start at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday’s games will start at 8 a.m.