E.A. Sports Today

The wait is over

Oxford, Choccolocco Park ready for DYB World Series, park’s biggest event to date; first-round pairings listed

We’ve hosted other Dixie Youth (state) tournaments before. I can tell you if we ever throw the first pitch things just smooth out; then, it’s just playing baseball. Then you get to watch 9-10-11-12 year old kids living their dreams.

— Gary Sparks, DYB World Series tournament chairman

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Two years of planning come to fruition Friday when 36 teams from 11 states march into Lamar Field for the opening ceremonies of the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series. And somewhere in the facility Gary Sparks will be brimming with emotion.

Sparks led the team that made and accepted Oxford’s bid to host the 2018 at Choccolocco Park two years ago. The last 24 months have been making sure the event goes off without a hitch and more than 500 players and coaches enjoy the experience of their lifetime.

“I’m nervous, to make sure we’ve got everything covered,” Sparks said. “There’s relief that it’s about to start and all this planning and stuff is over, and pride in the fact we’re hosting it.

“Obviously we want to put on a good experience for the fans who are coming in and them to have a positive experience with the City of Oxford and our new park. That’s what we build the park for, to draw people into our city. We’re just excited to have a tournament of this caliber to come in here. It’s the biggest thing we’ve had at Choccolocco Park to date.”

Oxford is the ninth Alabama city to host the DYB World Series and the first since Auburn had the 50th anniversary event in 2005.

Park officials have been installing windscreens behind all the dugouts, the six-foot fences required by the organizers that will remain with the facility and grass on the skin infields of the softball fields being used for the Majors tournament.

“It’s an immaculate field,” DYB commissioner Wes Skelton said. “I have to say, I’ve been commissioner 22 years and I don’t think we’ll ever have played on grass as nice as this. You don’t have golf courses that have grasses like that. I would love to have a lawn like that.”

Winky Newer, the Louisiana state director, visited Choccolocco Park on his way back from that South Carolina series where Oxford was awarded the event and he was impressed as well.

Oxford officials anticipate breaking even on the tournament. The city gets the gate, souvenir, concession and program sales. DYB also waived the provision for team per diem, saving Oxford a $76,000 expense.

The Series is actually three tournaments – O-Zone (11-12), Majors (11-12) and AAA (9-10) – with state champions from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. As a host Oxford has a team in each division.

The opening ceremonies are Friday 7 p.m. at Lamar Field, where Auburn baseball coach Butch Thompson is the keynote speaker, but the action starts well before that. A home run derby and skills competition will take place at the Oxford Lake softball complex at 2:30 p.m.

The games begin Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with all three Oxford teams playing in the opening wave.

“It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for all these kids just to participate and something memorable,” Oxford Majors manager Bradley Harris said. “A memory that they can have for the rest of their life.”

“I hope all the Oxford supporters, and everybody who likes baseball in Oxford, just come and support our team,” Oxford Majors first baseman Carson Harris said. “We really need it. … I hope all of y’all Oxford supporters can say, ‘Boom, Choccolocco.'”

The hay is in the barn now, as they say, but Sparks is confident the I’s have been dotted and the T’s have been crossed.

“We’ve hosted other Dixie Youth (state) tournaments before,” he said. “I can tell you if we ever throw the first pitch things just smooth out. Then, it’s just playing baseball. Then you get to watch 9-10-11-12 year old kids living their dreams.”

This story will be updated.

At Choccolocco Park
First-round games
August 5

Clinton (S.C.) vs. Oxford (host), 3:30 p.m. (Field 3)
Lebanon (Tenn.) National vs. Searcy (Ark.), 3:30 p.m. (Field 4)
Columbia County (Ga.) vs. Laurel (Miss.) National, 5:45 p.m. (Field 3)
West Rusk (Texas) vs. Kings Mountain (N.C.), 5:45 p.m. (Field 4)
Fairhope (Ala.) American vs. Graceville (Fla.), 8 p.m. (Field 3)
Ruston (La.) vs. Appomattox (Va.), 8 p.m. (Field 4)
Championship Game
Aug. 10, 11 a.m. (Field 3), (7:30 p.m., if necessary)

At Choccolocco Park
First-round games
August 5

Troup County (Ga.) vs. Minden (La.), 3:30 p.m. (SB 1)
Charlotte South Park (N.C.) vs. Oxford (host), 3:30 p.m. (SB 2)
Walthall (Miss.) vs. Huntington (Texas), 5:45 p.m. (SB 1)
Headland (Ala.) vs. Fairview (Tenn.), 5:45 p.m. (SB 2)
Ashdown (Ark.) vs. Buckingham (Va.), 8 p.m. (SB 1)
Bushnell South Sumter (Fla.) vs. North Charleston Wescott-Pepperhill (S.C.), 8 p.m. (SB 2)
Championship Game
Aug. 10, 12:30 p.m. (SB 1) (8 p.m., if necessary)

At Choccolocco Park
First-round games
August 5

Stanley (N.C.) vs. Hueytown (Ala.), 3:30 p.m. (Field 1)
Oxford (host) vs. Spring Hill (Fla.) American, 3:30 p.m. (Field 2)
Metairie Gerard (La.) vs. Hartsville (S.C.) Northern, 5:45 p.m. (Field 1)
Prince Edward Farmville (Va.) vs. Texarkana (Ark.) East, 5:45 p.m. (Field 2)
Bullard (Texas) vs. Loretto (Tenn.), 8 p.m. (Field 1)
Greene County (Miss.) vs. Swainsboro (Ga.), 8 p.m. (Field 2)
Championship Game
Aug. 10, 10 a.m. (Field 1) (5:30 p.m., if necessary)

OXFORD WORLD SERIES COMMITTEE: Greg Bagley, Josh Beshears, Stacy Booth, Roby Brooks, Wes Brooks, Lamar Carter, Joshua Craft, Jack Deal, Emily Duncan, Thomas Foley, Emil Loeken, Michelle Mayfield, Chad Robinson, Taylor Sloan, Gary Sparks (chairman), Robert Sparks.

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