Brewton Cal Ripken to host state softball tourney in 2012
Published 10:16 am Tuesday, July 19, 2011
After hosting the 2011 State Cal Ripken 12 and under baseball tournament last week, Brewton has learned it will be hosting a bigger tournament for the 2012 all star season.
“We will be hosting the state tournament for the entire Cal Ripken softball league,” Brewton Cal Ripken president David Jennings said. “That will be the 8 and under, 10 and under, 12 and under, and 14 and under. This year that tournament had 18 total teams in it. So we are going to have that many or more next year.”
Dates for the tournament will be released around the first of the year and likely will be held in early July.
Brewton’s success in getting the tournament was the result of hard work, Jennings said.
“You have to lobby for it,” he said. “You have to have a facility that can handle all that, and we have a beautiful facility at the YMCA. Also, it helps that one of our teams will be the defending state champions. But you have to get in there and jockey for position and state your case with them, and this weekend we did that. We had the softball folks come in and see how we were running the baseball tournament and look at our facility and they signed off on it Sunday afternoon. They pulled us off to the side and told us we were going to have it and we were pretty excited about that.”
The tournament will bring a lot of people to the Brewton area, Jennings said — which also translates to sales tax dollars.
“They will eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, and stay in our hotels, so I thought it was a good deal,” he said.
Jennings said with the city and the league being awarded another state tournament, it says a lot.
“Like I said before with the tournament this year, we can only make a first impression once,” Jennings said. “With the people we had in here this weekend, they were really pleased about their whole experience in Brewton and not just at the ballpark.”
For example, Jennings said a family from Attalla encountered help from a Brewton resident after having car trouble.
One particular story Jennings pointed out was a family from Attalla having car trouble and was taken care of by a Brewton resident.
“They bumped into Dr. (Jimmy) Adkisson along the way, and he talked to one of the mechanics here for them about replacing a fuel pump,” Jennings said. “He was just blown away that Dr. Adkisson went out of the way and took care of them. They said he paid a fair price for the repairs and everybody was just overly cordial to them and that was the theme for the whole, long weekend. Everyone had a great time and was treated well at restaurants and people spoke to them. The YMCA bent over backwards for them when they were not playing and allowed them to get out of the heat. They were blown away by that and all I can say was it was a huge success.”
With more teams headed to Brewton next summer, Jennings said some improvements will be made to facilities.
“With the more teams coming in there could be issues,” Jennings said. “They have a project at the Sports Park right now going on that they were waiting for the tournament this year to end, of making more parking. That will help somewhat. I don’t know if it will completely help with all the traffic we would expect, but it will take a lot of planning. With a lot of teams coming in, you will not throw it together the week before the tournament starts I can assure you of that. We might need to start up some kind of transit system from the high school parking lot down there or something. But with the number of people here willing to help, we will be able to troubleshoot any kind of problem that comes up.”
Despite the heat last week, the tournament went well this year, Jennings said.
“The games were unbelievable,” Jennings said. “When you are down there 16-17 hours a day, it can be tough, but at least you were entertained by some tremendous baseball. I think we had three games that ended in walk off home runs and 32 total home runs in the tournament with six grand slams. It was really, really good baseball. It was very competitive. I think we could play it five more times and we might have a different winner each time.”
While Jennings said he was not “naive enough to believe everything was perfect” at the tournament, he does believe the fans and teams had a great state experience.
“You think about all the volunteers that helped,” Jennings said. “That does not happen everywhere.”
Several mothers, led by Terece Shehan and including Heather Jennings, Rachel Winton, Margaret Ann Smith, Leslie Williamson and Kim Brittain, put in several hours of work to paint the Cal Ripken logo in the outfield at the sports park, Jennings said.
“They put in about four to five hours of labor each into that. They just went out and did it,” he said.
Jennings said others played a big role as well.
“Chip Peach brought fans that we put in the dugouts and seating area,” Jennings said. “It did not cool everyone down, but it helped. He just did it. David Maddox came down before the day of the game with a first class PA system, which adds to the experience. Steve Dickey and the entire YMCA staff helped all weekend, especially Darly Miller. We just have a real unique community of people here that just want to help. Without that, none of that happens. Lance McKenzie, I can’t say enough about him. He took time off from his job to manage the concession stand. He got paid nothing, but he got some of it back in cheeseburgers. I am sure I am leaving some out and I don’t mean to do that, but with that many people willing to ask what they could do, that is how you pull a tournament off and I think that is what happened this past weekend.”
The local Cal Ripken committee is already trying to get another baseball tournament in Brewton, Jennings said.
“I told them as soon as a spot comes up in the rotation that we wanted to get our name back in the hat,” Jennings said. “I also want to thank the city. I am not sure people understand how well funded we are by the city. When you talk to people from these other cities and communities, like Attalla, their kids pay $115 to play Cal Ripken baseball. Our kids paid $15, I think. I dare say our kids’ experience was second to anybody’s. So, the city does a tremendous job of funding recreational projects here. I do see a chance to possibly fund ourselves through tournaments. There is money to be made there and if we max out our resources, I think we can probably come close to doing that.”