Local baseball teams host spring break tournament

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2019

When several of Warren County’s high school baseball coaches got together in 2017 to start up a spring break tournament, it was with the idea that it could eventually grow into something huge.

“Eventually” only took three years.

Porter’s Chapel Academy, St. Aloysius and Vicksburg High will join 14 other teams for the Battle on the River, a four-day baseball bonanza at the new Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi. The event begins Saturday, continues through Wednesday, and will include more than 20 games featuring public and private school teams from Mississippi and Louisiana.

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“I think we had 16 teams last year. We wanted to build it up a little bit. We had 20 at one time (this year) and a couple had to back out because of schedule conflicts and things of that nature,” PCA coach Wade Patrick said. “From the feedback we got last year, they loved it. And I think they’ll be even more pleased this year. You start bringing in some good 6A teams and you can get that same competition here.”

The Vicksburg spring break tournament was started three years ago with eight teams and games played only at Bazinsky Field. Porter’s Chapel also hosted some games last year, and the recent opening of Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi allowed the tournament to start reaching its full potential.

Instead of being split up at two locations, all of the action will be centralized at the new facility. Two games will be played at once, which should allow for a better flow. It will also help the host teams, Patrick said, who don’t have to groom the field between games.

“Everybody is at one location. For us coaches it’s great because we don’t have to worry about field maintenance or weather. We show up and play and it’s done,” he said. “And it’s a big thing for the sports complex. This gives them some good exposure to some of these other teams that might want to come play in tournaments down here.”

All of the fields at Sports Force Parks are artificial turf, which should also help the tournament get every game in. Severe weather is forecast for Saturday and could affect the schedule, but Vicksburg High coach Antonio Calvin said if there are any breaks in the weather things should be fine.

“Due to the facility and the way the turf drains, it’s all about timing. If we get a break in the weather, this turf takes about 10 minutes to dry,” Calvin said.

Calvin is in his first year as the Gators’ head coach. His predecessor Derrick DeWald, now an assistant coach at Warren Central, started the tournament. Calvin previously coached at Greenville High School and brought his former team down to this tournament last season.

Now one of those in charge of organizing it, Calvin is enthusiastic about the tournament’s future. There are no other major high school baseball tournaments in Central Mississippi during spring break, which is helping Vicksburg become a popular destination for teams of all shapes and sizes.

A total of eight teams from the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and nine from the Mississippi High School Activities Association will play in this year’s tournament. The list includes MHSAA Class 6A schools Pearl, Terry and Greenville, as well as MAIS Class AA members Franklin Academy and Clinton Christian, and a number of schools in between.

“You have one (tournament) on the Coast and one in North Mississippi, but ours is the big one in Central Mississippi — and it’s growing,” Calvin said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s a different array of kids from different classes. It shows no matter where you come from, baseball can be played the right way or the wrong way and you can get beat by anybody if you don’t come to play.”

11:45 a.m. – Bayou vs. St. Aloysius
1:30 p.m. – Franklin County vs. Indianola Academy
1:30 p.m. – Canton vs. Vicksburg
10 a.m. – West Bolivar vs. Vicksburg
10 a.m. – Franklin Academy vs. Park Place
11:45 a.m. – Pelahatchie vs. Riverside
11:45 a.m. – Clinton Christian vs. Park Place
1:30 p.m. – Indianola Academy vs. Canton
1:30 p.m. – Porter’s Chapel Academy vs. West Bolivar
3:15 p.m. – Vicksburg vs. Greenville
3:15 p.m. – Bowling Green vs. Bayou
5 p.m. – St. Al vs. Clinton Christian
5 p.m. – Bowling Green vs. Canton
11:45 a.m. – Indianola Academy vs. Pearl
11:45 a.m. – Clinton Christian vs. Franklin Academy
1:30 p.m. – Bayou vs. Riverside
1:30 p.m. – Park Place vs. West Bolivar
3:15 p.m. – Pelahatchie vs. Greenville
3:15 p.m. – Canton vs. Pearl
5 p.m. – Porter’s Chapel vs. Bayou
5 p.m. – Pelahatchie vs. Vicksburg
11:45 a.m. – Indianola Academy vs. Terry
1:30 p.m. – PCA vs. Greenville
1:30 p.m. – Terry vs. Riverside

• All games are at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi
• Admission: $10 per day

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.

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