Officials: It takes a team to host a state tourney

Published 12:48 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

Andalusia is playing host to the 16 teams in the 2017 Dixie Ozone 12U Alabama state baseball tournament through Tuesday, and that means lots of work for lots of people.

“The planning on this thing starts months and months in advance,” Andy Wiggins, who oversees the city’s Parks and Rec department, said. “Just coordinating with all of the teams, putting information together, building the program for the tournament, lining up hotel rooms, getting the fields ready – there’s lots that goes into this.”

The state organization lined up the 11 umpires on hand to make sure the tournament runs smoothly, but local coordinators had to make sure the umps had a room and anything else they needed.

“Other than that, we basically work around Mother Nature,” Wiggins said.

Mother Nature through organizers a curve ball Thursday in the first day of play, when lightning delayed games by about three hours. It was almost 2 a.m. when city employees associated with the tournament went home.

“I worked nineteen and a half hours yesterday, but there were a lot of other peopel right here with me,” Whit Carroll, who along with Courtney Lipford and Michael Hourel is coordinating the event, said late Friday. “We’ve had a lot of people put in a lot of hours.”

The boys tournament came on the heels of a state girls tournament held here last week.

“Everybody has really pitched in,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a lot of high school students working this summer, and the city’s maintenance crew has really helped us out. We’ve also got some really good volunteers making sure things go well.”

Carroll said that while Andalusia residents were not asked to house ball players as host families, the Parks and Rec Department did line up a host family to assist each team.

And the visitors have been most appreciative, and impressed with Andalusia, Wiggins said.

“We’ve had compliment after compliment on our city,” he said. “I know the visitors have not only stayed in local hotels and eaten in local restaurants, but they’ve also been at Walmart, the dollar stores, and local pharmacies.”

The visitors also have enjoyed cooling off between games in the newly renovated Clark Theatres, he said.

“When the girls were here, there were several teams who took the whole team to the theater in the hottest part of the day. They talked about how nice it was, and what a good experience they’ve had here.”

“It takes a whole community to pull this off,” Wiggins said. “We’ve had a lot of people stepping up and representing Andalusia well.”