PRICEVILLE — Baseball took center stage Friday in Priceville as the city hosted the Dixie Youth AAA State Tournament.
Morgan County’s American All-Star team was the host team for the 16-team tournament, which featured players ages 9 and 10. An opening ceremony was held in Priceville High’s gymnasium as the All-Star teams from around the state were introduced with each member of each team being introduced in front of the crowd.
“Priceville has done an outstanding job,” said Dixie Youth National Director Harold Bobo. “They have a nice park that can accommodate any of the tournaments we have.”
Before the announcements took place, Bobo talked about the importance of Dixie Youth baseball to communities around the Southeast. Shortly after, a guest speaker was introduced.
Former Brewer High baseball player Gary Knotts spoke to the young athletes about being a part of a team and what it meant to be a successful baseball player. Knotts was selected in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball draft his senior year before heading to Northwest Shoals Community College for a year. Knotts then played in the majors from 2001-2005 for the Detroit Tigers and the Florida Marlins, now called the Miami Marlins.
After an invocation and the national anthem, the teams headed to Morgan County’s North Park for the first round of games.
“It’s coming together really smoothly,” said Morgan County Baseball President John Keahey. “It’s so conveniently located to the interstate. We have a great facility in North Park. It’s a great facility for a tournament of this size.”
Morgan County's and Hartselle’s All-Star teams were among the first round of games. The bracket is a double-elimination tournament with each team guaranteed at least two games. The champion, which is scheduled to be crowned Tuesday, will advance to the Dixie Youth World Series in Ruston, Louisiana.
Dixie Youth covers 11 states in the Southeast. This weekend in Priceville, a team will be chosen to represent Alabama on a national stage.
“It means the world to these kids to just be here and win games,” Keahey said. “I talk to adults that remember playing in the state tournament or talk about it all the time. The memories and stories that these kids will get just by being here will last their whole life.”
Hartselle and Morgan County didn’t have the best opening day of the state tournament. Morgan County, the host team, lost to Troy 21-3 in four innings. Morgan County will play Opelika in a must-win game at 9 a.m. today. The winner plays at 6 p.m.
Hartselle lost 24-0 in three innings to Lauderdale County. Hartselle plays Gordo at 9 a.m. today in a must-win game. The winner plays at 6 p.m.
Other results from Friday’s games included AUM over Opelika, 6-4; Taylor/Rehobeth over Gordo, 15-10; Montgomery American over Winfield, 22-4; Oxford over Municipal American, 13-0; Clanton over Piedmont 13-3; Dothan American over Taylorville, 10-1.