E.A. Sports Today

The game is on

Nearly 50 teams from 10 Southern states will converge on Choccolocco Park this weekend for the Dixie Softball World Series
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
OXFORD – The Dixie Softball World Series is a go for Choccolocco Park this weekend and the national president of the youth sports organization is more convinced than ever that playing the games is the right call.
Forty-nine teams from 10 Southern states will arrive in town Friday for the five-day double-loss elimination event that will crown champions in seven age divisions.
While other sports organizations on all levels have been wrestling with ways to proceed with their seasons in this age of coronavirus, Dixie Softball officials were adamant from the start the games should go on.
“I think it’s the right decision; America has got to get up and do stuff,” Dixie Softball national president Obie Evans said. “This is America. We’ve had the flu every year, we don’t shut down, and the youth is the ones that are not affected so much, so we think the right decision was made or otherwise we wouldn’t do it.
“Oxford has stood strong with us and we’re appreciative of it and we’re trying to bring an activity to Oxford that benefits Oxford and Dixie Softball. This should benefit the hotels, the gas stations and things that have been hit hard; this should be a shot in the arm for them. The main thing, of course, is the kids. We don’t believe we’re bringing them into an unsafe atmosphere.”
It won’t be a typical World Series field. Because of the various responses to the pandemic around the country many states weren’t able to hold state tournament or even play a regular season schedule. Other leagues committed to their regular play and opted out of the all-star level program.
As a result, national officials opened the tournament to all-comers and leagues that might not have played in a World Series otherwise took advantage of the opportunity. The only state champion in the field is the Sebring (Fla.) Ponytails.
Organizers were expecting even more teams, but several bowed out for various reasons as the summer extended. The Franklin County, Fla., Ponytail X-Play team withdrew Tuesday. Still, Florida has 18 teams from seven communities in the field. Arkansas is the only state in the organization without a representative.
“I think it’s going to be interesting,” Evans said. “Any time to bring something together and they’re all coming from the same factor, you’re gonna have a good tournament because you have a lot of equal factors there.
“These teams are coming in with unknowns. A lot of them haven’t even played any ball at all.”
But they’re playing now. At least two communities – Summerville, S.C., and Around The Lake (Okeechobee), Fla. – put teams together privately when parents stepped up after local officials declined to open their recreation department or support the program.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday extended the state’s Safer At Home order until Aug. 31. Part of the order says masks are required in public when interaction within six feet with people of another household. Dixie Softball officials said there would be no mask police at the series, but all actions should be directed by common sense.
It is the hope of the tournament officials to give the teams as positive a World Series experience as possible.
“We’re going to do the best we can for the kids we have,” Evans said.
This story will be updated.

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