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Softball tourneys start Thursday

Players from six different states and 23 different teams will hit the diamond in Andalusia on Thursday as the city hosts three Babe Ruth Softball regional tournaments at the Andalusia Sports Complex.

Dwight Mikel, director of leisure services for the city of Andalusia, said things are progressing smoothly.

“I believe we’ve got every team confirmed who was planning to come,” he said. “The fields look good and we’re just watching the rain, in the event that we might have to mow the grass quickly before tournament time. We’ve added some office area and a place for the umpires to dress at the complex, but all of that stuff is temporary and will be taken back out once the tournaments are over.”

The city is hosting the Southern regional tournament for the 14-and-under, 16-and-under and 18-and-under divisions of Babe Ruth Softball. Mikel said there will be 10 teams in the 14-and-under tournament, eight in the 16-and-under tournament and five in the 18-and-under tournament.

Teams in the Southern region are Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Georgia is also in the region, but is not sending any teams to Andalusia.

Games will begin at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and the tournaments could continue as late as Sunday morning. However, Mikel said it is also possible the games could all be finished by Saturday evening.

“It all just kind of depends on which teams lose and which teams win,” he said. “One of the things that Babe Ruth has asked all the regional sites to do is to try and expedite the tournaments as quickly as possible. Due to the economy, they’re trying to limit the length of the trips.

“But, even if we only go through Saturday, that’s still four nights these teams will spend in Andalusia hotels.”

Mikel said this week’s tournaments will be useful preparation for when the city hosts the 2011 Babe Ruth Softball 12-and-under World Series.

“To some extent, it’s much harder to host this tournament just sheer to the sheer number of teams that will be involved,” he said. “We’re looking at twice as many teams here this year, as there will be in 2011.”

Any one who wishes to volunteer to help with the Babe Ruth tournaments can call Karin Taylor at 222-6612.